Local kids star in rock musical ‘13’


By Diane Y. Welch


The transition from child to teen can be charged by emotional challenges. And when you are at the pivotal age of 13, life may feel like you’re on the edge of a precipice.

“It’s like you get stuck on this cliff between everybody starting to treat you like a grown up and those still treating you like a child,” Tony Award-winning writer Jason Robert Brown said. As the creator of the high-energy musical “13,” Brown is well aware of the range of feelings experienced by young people as they start to mature.

“With the Jewish Bar Mitzvah, kids are told by grownups that they are now ready for self-responsibility to be part of a greater community, and that’s a heavy load to put on a child,” Brown said.

His musical “13” premieres in San Diego from the California Youth Conservatory Theatre, Jan. 16 to 31 at the Lyceum Theatre, Horton Plaza.

Shaun T. Evans, the founder and director of the youth theater school, co-produced the show with Kathy Acosta whose daughter, Marisa, plays the part of Lucy. Critics bill the musical as “a grown-up story about growing up,” Acosta noted. “It’s a show for all ages about discovering that cool is where you find it, and sometimes where you least expect it.”

Last week, Brown came down from his base in Los Angeles, where he teaches musical theater composition at the University of Southern California, to meet cast members and lead them in a performance workshop. CYC rehearses at Torrey Hills Elementary School in Carmel Valley.

“13” was originally staged in 2007 at the Mark Taper Forum Theater in Los Angeles. It was designed for a cast of 13, Brown said. The show went on to Broadway and gained critical acclaim. Now the musical is licensed around the country with more than 75 productions scheduled nationwide.

CYC Theatre chose to do “13” independent of Brown. On the heels of a successful summer run of “Rent,” it was time to choose the next project. “Some of the students were talking about ‘13’ and when one of them chose to sing ‘Bad Bad News’ in a gala performance we were staging, it grabbed my attention,” Evans said. “Then I heard an amazing ballad from the show, ‘Tell Her,’ and the next moment I was on the phone requesting the license for it.”

The show’s announcement in the fall was followed by CYC Theatre’s biggest audition turn out. They ultimately chose a cast of 43 as lead roles, and principals are double cast.


  • When: Jan. 16 through 31
  • Showtimes: 7 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; 2 p.m. Saturday, Sunday; 1 p.m. Jan. 31
  • Where: Lyceum Theatre, 79 Horton Plaza, San Diego
  • Tickets: $12-$24.
  • Contact: (619) 544-1000,