Gallery Players presents “13” at the Roth/Resler Theater on select days Dec. 3 through Dec. 18. The hilarious coming of age musical includes an unforgettable rock score from Tony Award-winning composer Jason Robert Brown and book written by Dan Elish and Robert Horn.
“The story is timeless,” says director and choreographer Ryan Scarlata. Scarlata is also the Associate Artistic Director at Columbus Children’s Theatre where he has worked for ten years. After years of trying to find the right show and timing to work with Gallery Players, Scarlata says he’s thrilled to be a part of this production.
“13” is about 13 year-old Evan Goldman who, after a move from fast-paced New York City to small-town Indiana, grapples with his parents’ divorce, prepares for his impending Bar Mitzvah, and navigates the complicated social circles of a new school. Although the cast is comprised entirely of teenagers, the stories that come to life are ageless and the laughter and the memories they provide are priceless.
“Working with an all teen cast is really fun,” says 15-year-old Neil Kalef who plays Evan. “I made friends with the whole cast almost instantly and we’re all pretty close.”
Neil has performed several times with Gallery Players and won a Columbus Theatre Roundtable award for his portrayal as Eugene the Gallery Players production of “Brighton Beach Memoirs” last year. As an observant Jew, Neil says that Gallery Players opens a door for him as the only theater organization in Columbus to not perform or practice on Friday evenings and Saturdays during the day.
As a Jewish teen, Neil can relate to his character Evan, but at 15 years old most of Evan’s problems with changing bodies and friends are recent memories. There were also some differences between their experiences:
“I did have to prepare for my bar mitzvah which really is a huge, life changing event,” says Neil. “However, being an orthodox Jewish boy born and raised in a very tight-knit community and going to a really small school, I didn’t really experience a lot of the things that Evan does, like bullying, nasty rumors, or harmful peer pressure.”
For Scarlata, “13” applies not only to audience’s collective memories of adolescence, but to life long after puberty:
“You don’t have to be 13 or have a 13-year-old in order to enjoy this story,” says Scarlata. “Everyone struggles at one point or another to fit in, and most of us will do just about anything for the opportunity to be with the ‘in-crowd.’ For many, this follows in one way or another beyond middle school and high school. That’s why this show is powerful.”
Scarlata continues: “In the end, we are provided the message ‘we all have a little more homework to do.’ We are always growing, always learning, always in need of support and, hopefully, always being supportive.”
Show times include Dec. 3 at 8 p.m., Dec. 4 at 2:30 p.m., Dec. 8 at 7:30 p.m., Dec. 10 at 8 p.m., Dec. 11 at 2:30 p.m., Dec. 15 at 7:30 p.m., Dec. 17 at 8 p.m., and Dec. 18 at 2:30 p.m. To purchase tickets or learn more about the show, visit jccgalleryplayers.org or call the box office at 614-231-2731.
See the composer of “13” and worldwide-touring musician Jason Robert Brown perform at the JCC on Jan. 21. Sponsorships are available for purchase online at jccgalleryplayers.org. Tickets can be purchased online beginning Dec. 3.
Gallery Players is underwritten by the Lenore Schottenstein & Community Jewish Arts Fund of the Columbus Jewish Foundation.