“13” opened on Broadway in 2008. That makes the musical — about a New York boy whose upcoming bar mitzvah is upended by his parents’ divorce, and his move with his mother to Indiana — 14 years old.
But it lives on. “13” — the movie, starring Debra Messing and Rhea Perlman — debuted on Netflix earlier this month. The cast includes a host of young teenagers. dancing and singing about becoming a man, middle school, crushes and first kisses.
Of course, you can’t get 40 kids to actually sing and dance in a movie. So Jason Robert Brown — who adapted the film from his own original music and lyrics — recruited 8 actual 13- and 14-year-old to provide vocals for the big number.
And — this being musical theater-crazy Westport — 2 of those teenagers are from right here.
Andrew Maskoff and Ari Sklar met at Coleytown Middle School. Andrew wrote the script for a short film, for the 2021 Coleytown Company Revue. He and Ari spent hours editing it in the piano room at Ari’s house.
During breaks, they tore through every Broadway score on the shelf, Dan says. (He’s an actor, along with a rabbi and cantor; his wife Shirah is a rabbi/cantor too.)
“It was amazing to watch these kindred spirits make music together,” Dan notes. “They’re 2 years apart in school, so Ari can’t wait to meet up with him at Staples next fall.” (Andrew — a member of Staples Players — will be a sophomore this fall. Ari is a rising 8th grader.)
Neither knew that the other had sent an audition tape to Brown’s request for backup vocalists.
Ari and Dan were the first people to arrive at the New York studio last summer. The next singer was Andrew. The boys stared at each other in disbelief.
When Brown showed up, he had an impish grin. He knew they would know each other. He had wanted their meeting to be a surprise.
The boys were “pros in the studio,” Sklar says. “It was a power session of over 8 hours.
“Jason and Georgia Stitt (his wife, and a noted composer and music director) couldn’t have been kinder to the kids. Jason is a mensch of the first order. He even gave a shout-out to them all in a blog post (click here).
“13” had special relevance for Ari. While singing backup vocals for the movie, he was preparing for his own bar mitzvah, held this summer in Israel.
Mazel tov to both him and Andrew!
(Click below for a clip from “13.” Actor Eli Golden is lip synching; vocals for all the others was recorded by Andrew Maskoff, Ari Sklar and 6 others.)
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