13 the Musical Is Now Also a Novel, With a Musical Surprise Imbedded

News   13 the Musical Is Now Also a Novel, With a Musical Surprise Imbedded
The Broadway-bound teen-driven musical 13, beginning previews Sept. 16 at The Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, is available in a different form — as a novel for kids — in bookstores now.

Dan Elish
Dan Elish

Composer-lyricist Jason Robert Brown and Dan Elish, who conceived and wrote the show, are the novel's authors, drawing on the plot and characters they cooked up for the stage. (Robert Horn, also a librettist on the stage show, was not involved in the novel.)

The 208-page hardcover book is aimed at kids aged 9-12, and is published by HarperCollins/Laura Geringer.

Later this year, the prolific Brown has his own children's picture book — adapted from "The Schmuel Song" from The Last 5 Years — coming out, with artwork by Mary GrandPré.

Elish, already a busy novelist with adult and children's books in circulation, told Playbill.com that Brown's "Schmuel" book editor was intrigued by the idea of the new high-school set show Brown was writing. Even before the early 2007 world premiere of 13 in Los Angeles, a deal for Brown and Elish to create a novel of the stage show — about a high schooler who moves from New York City to Indiana — was sealed. In 2007, when the show was on a definite Broadway track, Brown and Elish sat down and got to work on the novel, which was finally published July 1, 2008, in anticipation of the fall Broadway launch of the musical.

The book includes a website that readers can go to and download a demo of a song from the musical. On the demo, Brown, who won the Best Score Tony Award for Parade, plays and sings "A Little More Homework," the last song in the musical 13. The musical 13 is inspired by a paragraph scenario that Brown created. Elish and Brown developed it into the musical's plot.

Here's how the producers bill the musical: "Evan Goldman has it all — he's popular, has the perfect family and lives in the greatest city in the world — New York. That is until his parents get divorced and he's forced to move with his Mom…to Indiana. Uprooted from his old life, he has to make new friends and somehow maneuver his way through the minefield of High School to become part of the 'in-crowd.'"

The writers' collaboration began after Elish — a fan of Brown's work, particularly the musical The Last 5 Years — attended a public appearance by Brown in which the songwriter, perhaps jokingly, said he just wanted to write a show with a bunch of teenagers singing and dancing on stage. The remark sparked something in Elish, who sent Brown a copy of his latest children's novel, "Born Too Short."

Brown read it and asked for a meeting.

Elish is the author of the novel "Nine Wives" (St. Martins Press, 2005) and "The Misadventures of Justin Hearnfeld" (St. Martins Press, 2008). He is also the author of "Born Too Short, Confessions of an 8th Grade Basket Case," which was picked as a Book for the Teenage 2003 by the New York Public Library and won a 2004 International Reading Association Students' Choice Award. He has also written several other novels for young adults including "The Attack of the Frozen Woodchucks," "The Worldwide Dessert Contest," "Jason and the Baseball Bear" and "The Great Squirrel Uprising." He has also written non-fiction books for young adults, scripts for kids' TV shows (in particular "Cyberchase" for PBS), music and lyrics for six musicals, comic corporate videos, and he played piano for various Off-Broadway productions. He has received fellowships and scholarships to the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, the Sewanee Writers' Conference, and is a member of the Dramatist Guild. Elish lives in New York City with his wife and young daughter and son.

For more information visit www.danelish.com and www.jasonrobertbrown.com.

Here's how harpercollinschildrens.com describes the novel "13":

13 Things to Know About "13"
1. This book is about a guy named Evan.
2. Three months before his 13th birthday, he has to move from New York City
3. to Appleton, Indiana,
4. where nobody knows him.
5. He's not very happy about it.
6. His mom is kind of nuts.
7. His dad is kind of nuts too.
8. Evan's not nuts, but he keeps ending up in nutty situations.
9. One of them involves a movie called "The Bloodmaster."
10. Another involves a girl named Patrice.
11. But the nuttiest situation of all is his bar mitzvah—
12. which it's possible no one will come to.
13. Unless Evan can make some new friends really fast.


13, A New Musical will open on Oct. 5. Tickets are now on sale. The title track and a music video are now available at www.13themusical.com.

Full casting will be announced shortly. The show's developmental stagings in Los Angeles (Mark Taper Forum) and Connecticut (Goodspeed Musicals) had teen performers in the teen roles, bringing an authenticity and energy to the musical about fitting in during the wonder years when hormones and hopes and emotions are running wild.

"The cast is comprised entirely of teenagers, but the stories that come to life are ageless, the emotions they explore timeless, the laughter and the memories they provide priceless," according to the producers.

Brown won the Best Score Tony Award for Parade, and earned a loyal fan following for his revue Songs For a New World and the two-actor Off-Broadway musical, The Last Five Years. He was also Tony Award-nominated for his score contributions for the musical Urban Cowboy.

With a book by award-winning children's author Elish and Robert Horn (librettist of Dame Edna: Back with a Vengeance), 13 is directed by Tony Award nominee Jeremy Sams (The Sound of Music in the West End) and choreographed by Tony Award nominee Christopher Gattelli (South Pacific).

The production features scenic and costume design by Tony nominee David Farley (2008's Sunday in the Park with George), lighting design by Tony Award winner Brian MacDevitt (The Coast of Utopia Part I) and sound design by Jon Weston (The Color Purple).

The musical is produced on Broadway by Bob Boyett, Roger Berlind, Tim Levy, Stacey Mindich, Ken Davenport, Broadway Across America, Jane Bergère, Carl Moellenberg, Sharon Karmazin, in association with The Araca Group.

Tickets for 13, A New Musical are on sale at Telecharge.com, at (212) 239-6200.


13, A New Musical earned the L.A. Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best Production and Best Musical Score for its production at The Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles (Dec. 22, 2006-Feb. 18, 2007) and enjoyed a successful run at Goodspeed's Norma Terris Theatre in Chester, CT (May 8-June 9, 2008).

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