Interview: Debra Messing and Eli Golden on 13: The Musical


ComingSoon Senior Editor Spencer Legacy spoke with 13: The Musical stars Debra Messing and Eli Golden about working together on the film and the messages that the adaptation presents. 13: The Musical is now available for streaming on Netflix.

“After moving from New York City to Indiana, a 12-year-old navigates his parents’ divorce, his impending bar mitzvah, and his new school’s social circles,” reads the movie’s synopsis.

Spencer Legacy: Debra, you did musicals in high school and the show Smash, so what’s it like to do a musical film?

Debra Messing: Fantastic! I did Dirty Dancing and sang a song in that, so that gave me a sense of what to expect, but to see this group of 12-year-olds just be so talented, raw talent, and to see them clearly doing what they love more than anything in the world … it just brought me such joy. I was like, “anyone watching this is going to be filled with joy and hope.” It was an incredibly uplifting experience.

Eli, do you have a favorite song to perform?

Eli Golden: Yes, I think either “Homework” [or] … now I can’t do “Bloodmaster,” but when I was able to do “Bloodmaster” in the original key, I really loved performing that. Also “It Would Be Funny.” Me and Deborah should run that back one time.

Debra, to follow up on what you said, how fulfilling is it to work on this sort of project and see this next generation of stars as they start out their career?

Debra Messing: It felt like a privilege, you know? Like a peek into the future, because all of these kids … we’re going to see them all on Broadway someday. They were all just great kids. I think it was really meaningful that they were really 12 years old and not 19 playing 12. So to have that kind of wide-eyed sense of play, it’s like I could just cut to 10 years from now … it’s exciting, It’s exciting. I can’t wait to see them grow up and go to all of their plays.

RELATED: Interview: Gabriella Uhl & Jonathan Lengel on 13: The Musical’s Message

Eli, had you heard of 13: The Musical before? What drew you to the project?

Eli Golden: I heard of 13: The Musical through small productions, whether it was at camp or whether I’ve seen it just done. I saw many people do Patrice’s songs like “Lamest Place” and “That’s What it Means to Be a Friend.” That’s what really drew me to the project. My mom, funny enough, really was the one who was like … I was coming off a pretty big loss because I was very close to another part and I didn’t get it. I wasn’t happy with the Zoom auditions because it was at the time when COVID was at a really high peak, and I was like, “I don’t want to do it. Forget about it. I don’t want do it. I’ll wait until I’m back in person,” but my mom was like, “Let’s try out for this. It’s really cool. You’ll be on set with kids. You’ll get to meet a lot of really, really cool people do this.” And I said okay. And you know, callback turns into callback, turns into I’m up in Canada.

Debra, what message do you hope the adults who may watch with their kids get from your storyline?

Debra Messing: Oh gosh. I guess to be compassionate about kids that are that age, 12, 13. It’s a really, really difficult time. You want to fit in and anything that makes you different feels scary. Also, I’m hoping that it will remind people to educate their kids about other cultures because that education happens throughout the movie and at the end, it really is just a celebration of inclusion and diversity.




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