Twelve-year-old New Yorker Evan Goldman is soon to have his Bar Mitzvah, and he wants his party to be amazing, but that might not happen because his parents are splitting up as his father starts to fall in love with a stewardess, which causes his mother to file a divorce against her husband ("Thirteen/Becoming A Man"). Just as Evan thinks that maybe things will be fine, his mother calls to tell him that they are moving to Appleton, Indiana. Once there, however, Evan finds a friend in his neighbor, Patrice, who develops a small crush on Evan while telling him how Appleton, Indiana is ("The Lamest Place in the World").
Later that month, Evan meets Brett Sampson, the most popular kid in school, and tells Brett and his friends to take Kendra, a real pretty girl who Brett wants to date, to a scary movie where Brett can do "The Tongue". Brett nicknames Evan "Brain" because of his idea. Later, Brett asks out Kendra, but Lucy, her jealous friend, tries to tell Kendra she can't go (Hey, Kendra). When Brett tells Evan that the idea seems to have worked, Evan is thrilled; this means that Brett will come to his Bar Mitzvah, and if Brett comes, everyone else will come. Patrice, however, is displeased. If she goes to the Bar Mitzvah, nobody else will go because all of the others hate her and Evan will be viewed as hanging out with a geek and uncool. Evan does not think that it will be that bad, but when he hands out the invitations, he sees that Patrice is right, and in a moment of panic, he rips up her invitation so that the popular kids will come ("13 (Reprise)"). As the other kids express their excitement over Evan's party, Archie enters and introduces himself. He is upset at Evan for humiliating Patrice – his best and only friend – but promises to help to make it up to her if Evan gets him a date with Kendra. When Archie’s attempts to use his degenerative illness to guilt Evan into getting him the date do not work, Archie tries to convince him that Evan is the only one who can get Archie the date and if he doesn't, Archie will show up to Evan's Bar Mitzvah and ruin it ("Get Me What I Need"). Evan finally relents. Later, at cheerleading practice, Kendra teaches a new cheer while Lucy resolves to make Brett her boyfriend. Archie tries to talk Patrice into giving Evan a second chance, especially since she has a crush on him, but she has lost faith in him and still upset at what he had done to her ("What It Means To Be A Friend").
In class, Brett tells Evan to get his mother to buy them all tickets to "The Bloodmaster." Evan protests that his mother will not buy them tickets to an R-rated movie, but Brett points out that if she does not, nobody will go to his Bar Mitzvah and Evan will be the uncool one. Evan cycles through possible plans, eventually realizing that he will have Archie use his illness to guilt Evan's mother ("All Hail the Brain/Terminal Illness"). To make things better with Patrice, Evan asks her to go to the movie with him as a date. He then realizes that he "just set Brett and Archie up to be on dates with the same girl, on the same night, in the same place...." Evan makes Archie promise to do nothing more than sit next to Kendra so as not to screw up Brett's date. Archie agrees, and everyone prepares for Friday night ("Getting Ready").
Everyone gets to the movie, and Brett prepares for "The Tongue", Lucy is on "Tongue Patrol", and Kendra waits for it along with Brett's goons, Eddie and Malcolm, but amidst it all, Patrice is upset because Evan is not sitting with her; he is saving a seat for Archie (Any Minute). When Archie gets there, he pokes Brett with a crutch, and panic ensues: Archie squeezes his face, closes his eyes, and goes in to kiss Kendra, while Brett at the same time, turns his head, sticks out his tongue, and goes in for the kiss. Evan sees, and as he mouths 'Nooooo!', reaches to pull Kendra back, while Lucy reaches for Kendra, too, but only so she can stop Kendra from getting the tongue. When Brett and Archie don't realize that Kendra is out of their way, their mouths meet. Kendra knees Brett in the crotch, trying to stop him from hurting Evan or Archie, after Archie reveals how Evan set him up on a date with Kendra. Brett breaks up with Kendra, and Lucy asks if Brett's "tongue is still available." Meanwhile, Evan is left alone by Patrice ("Good Enough").
As Lucy and Brett begin dating, she forces him to spend increasingly more time with her. Brett's friends recognize that Lucy is good neither for Brett nor for them at all ("Bad Bad News"). Evan promises to help to get Brett and Kendra back together so that he can get back on everyone’s good side. Archie, fearing that this is a suicide mission, begs Patrice to help Evan. She tells Archie she is not going, but he knows that she is lying. When Patrice gets there, she surprises Evan by helping him help Brett, but instead of telling Brett what to say to Kendra, they end up telling each other that they are sorry, but Brett is oblivious ("Tell Her"). Brett takes their advice, and when he learns that Lucy and Kendra are fighting over him, he interferes, and makes a feeble attempt to get Kendra back, and, to his surprise, she comes back to him. Meanwhile, Lucy learns of it and won't take the hit. She spreads a rumor that Kendra is cheating on Brett with Evan, and then gets Evan and Kendra in the same place so that Brett can catch them ("It Can't Be True"). Her plan works, and Brett lashes out at Evan. Evan, finally having enough of Brett, stands up to him and says that Archie and Patrice are his real friends. After Brett insults Archie and Patrice, Evan shoves him, but Brett only punches him in the nose, causing it to bleed. Patrice immediately rushes to Evan's aid. Kendra shows kindness towards Archie before running after Brett. Evan wants to call off the Bar Mitzvah because it would only be him, Patrice, and Archie, but Patrice and Archie point out it that won't be that bad, and Evan starts to agree, and then he surprises Patrice with a kiss, and she surprises him back ("If That's What It Is"). Evan has his Bar Mitzvah after all; he is starting to understand what growing up means, and the characters tell of what surprises turning thirteen brought for each of them ("A Little More Homework"). Evan tells the audience that he is "thirteen years old. And [he's] just getting started."
An encore is performed to end the show ("Brand New You")."13 / Becoming a Man" - Evan & Cast
"The Lamest Place in the World" - Patrice
"Hey Kendra" - Eddie, Malcolm, Brett, Lucy, & Kendra
"13 (Reprise)" - Evan & Cast
"Get Me What I Need" - Archie & Cast
"What It Means to Be a Friend" - Patrice
"All Hail the Brain/Terminal Illness" - Evan, Archie, & Cast
"All Hail the Brain (Reprise)" - Brett, Evan, & Kids
"Getting Ready" - Archie, Evan, Brett, Patrice, Eddie, Malcolm, Kendra, & Lucy
"Any Minute" - Brett, Kendra, Patrice, & Archie
"Good Enough" - Patrice
"Being a Geek" - Evan, Rabbi, & Rabbis
"Bad Bad News" - Eddie, Malcolm, Simon, & Richie
"Tell Her" - Evan & Patrice
"It Can't Be True" - Lucy, Molly, Cassie, Charlotte, Eddie, Malcolm, Simon, & Richie
"If That's What It Is" - Archie, Patrice, & Evan
"A Little More Homework" - Evan, Charlotte, Cassie, Molly & Kids
"Brand New You" - Cassie, Charlotte, Molly, & Kids
"Good Enough" was included in the Original Broadway Production, but was not on the Cast Recording.
"Opportunity" and "Here I Come" were both included on the Original Broadway Cast Recording, but were cut from the production before opening night. The song "Here I Come" originally came after "Good Enough", followed by "Opportunity", which was retooled and included in the MTI Version with new lyrics and a new spot in the show. "Being a Geek" was likewise not included in the Original Broadway Production, but took the place of "Here I Come" in the MTI Version.
The musical premiered on January 7, 2007 at The Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, California and ran through February 18, 2007. The production was directed by Todd Graff, with choreography by Michele Lynch, and the cast and band were all teenagers. This production received a nomination for the 2007 LA Stage Alliance Ovation Awards, World Premiere Musical. The cast and band for the Mark Taper Forum production: Ricky Ashley, Caitlin Baunoch, Molly Bernstein, Jenáe Burrows, Emma Degerstedt, Jamie Eblen, Julia Harriman, Jordan Johnson, Tinashe Kachingwe, Tyler Mann, Sara Niemietz, Ryan Ogburn, J.D. Phillips, Ellington Ratliff, Chris Raymond, Charlie Rosen, Alex Scolari, Chloé Smith, Christian Vandal, Nehemiah Williams and Seth Zibalese.
The musical was next presented at the Norma Terris Theatre in Chester, Connecticut, by Goodspeed Musicals from May 9, 2008 through June 8, 2008, with direction by Jeremy Sams and choreography by Christopher Gattelli. It starred most of the original Broadway cast, except that it featured Ashton Smalling as Kendra, Taylor Bright as Cassie, Matthew McGinn as Eddie and Kyle Crews as Malcolm.
The musical opened on Broadway at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre on September 16, 2008 in previews, with an official opening on October 5, 2008 and closed on January 4, 2009 after 105 performances and 22 previews. The director and choreographer were the same as at Goodspeed, and most of the Broadway cast was also in the Goodspeed production (except Moro, Hammond and Williams). There was a teen band, as in prior productions. The production received one Drama Desk Award nomination, for Outstanding Lyrics by Brown. 13 is the first and only all Teenager Cast and Band to ever hit Broadway in the history of Broadway.
Revivals featuring revisions to the show made by Brown, Dan Elish and Robert Horn were staged at French Woods Performing Arts Camp in summer 2009, Theatre Under the Stars, Houston, in the fall 2009, and Indian Head camp in summer 2010. In 2010, Ransom Everglades Theatre staged a revival in Miami from March 19–22, directed and choreographed by Angelica Torres.
The musical opened Off-Broadway at the McGinn/Cazale Theatre on April 23, 2011, in a production by the Children's Acting Company. This six-performance engagement used the revisions by Brown, Elish and Horn.
"13" was produced by Broadwaybound Children's Theatre at ACT-a contemporary theatre in Seattle Washington, under the direction of the company's artistic director, Jimmy Nixon. It was performed twice, once in 2015 and once prior to that. In 2009–2010, show was performed in several productions in Jerusalem, Israel.
The first UK production of 13 was given by Young Performers Theatre Company, a youth theatre company from Shrewsbury, in June 2010. The show was directed and produced by Benjamin Connor. The West End production of 13, by the National Youth Music Theatre, premiered at the Apollo Theatre in Westminster, London on August 22, 2012 and closed three days later on August 25, 2012. The production was directed by Jason Robert Brown. As with the Broadway production, the cast were all teenagers. A West End cast recording was made at Sphere Recording Studios in Battersea, London and released on December 18, 2012.
In 2011, Theatre Noir presented the first Hong Kong productions in both English and Cantonese. The premiere of the Cantonese version took place at Jockey Club Auditorium, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, 7 October 2011. In September 2014, Theatre Noir presented a re-run in both English and Cantonese in Yuen Long Theatre.
In March 2012, 13 made its South Australian debut when it was performed by Adelaide Youth Theatre for the Adelaide Fringe Festival at the Adelaide College of the Arts. It was directed by Rodney Hutton and musically directed by Michelle Nightingale.
A West Australian production of "13" opened on February 4, 2015 as part of the Fringeworld Festival. Presented by Playlovers at Hackett Hall, Floreat, it was directed by Kimberley Shaw with musical direction by Stepnhen Beerkens and Madeleine Shaw. In December 2013, a Flemish/Dutch version was mounted by Jeugdtheater Ondersteboven, a youth theatre company in Sint-Niklaas, Belgium.
In 2014, CBS Films announced that they intend to produce a film adaption of the musical. The screenplay is set to be written by Bert V. Royal, with producers Laurence Mark, Bob Boyett and executive producer, David Blackman. Jason Robert Brown is expected to oversee the adaptation's music and lyrics.