• Simon Rushby

What It Means To Be A Friend by Jason Robert Brown

#listeneveryday 26 Feb 2021

Jason Robert Brown is a composer, pianist and conductor who was born in New York in 1970 and is best known for his musicals. His first musical was a collaboration with director Daisy Prince called Songs For A New World, a kind of theatrical song-cycle which remains popular with student and amateur groups. He then worked with Daisy's legendary father, Hal Prince, on a Broadway show called Parade which gained him a Tony award though it only ran for ten weeks.


Next was another collaboration with Daisy Prince called The Last Five Years, a two-hander partly inspired by his recently failed marriage. A film version starring Anna Kendrick, featuring the song Still Hurting, was released in 2014.


13 opened in Los Angeles in 2007 and transferred to Broadway, running for nearly three months. Its teenage cast examine the complexities and social pitfalls of a young person's life, following a 12-year-old boy as he prepares for his Bar Mitzvah and struggles with his parents' divorce and fitting in at his new school.


13 is both funny and poignant. Older audience members can view it with a sense of nostalgia for their youth and understand with hindsight the complex problems of adolescent life, while children identify hugely with its storyline. It makes strong points about the difficulty of teenage social circles, 'labelling' and the damage these things can do to self confidence.


Interestingly, two stars of the Broadway production of 13 were Ariana Grande and Elizabeth Gilles, both of whom went on to appear in the TV series Victorious. A Netflix adaptation is due to start shooting in the summer of this year.


More to listen to

A 13-year-old Ariana Grande gives a great performance of the song at a promotional event.







Anna Kendrick sings Still Hurting from the film version of The Last Five Years.









Audra McDonald performs Stars and the Moon from Songs From A New World - one of JRB's best-known songs.


A new #listeneveryday post is published every weekday! Comment below or tweet @SimonRushby with your suggestions for future music.

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