The latest tween obsession (and ours, too) has dropped on Netflix. Under the direction of Tamra Davis, 13: The Musical released on the streamer August 12 and features Gabriella Uhl, who previously appeared in the national tour of School of Rock, as 12-year-old Evan Goldman's quirky best friend Patrice.
Based on the 2008 Broadway musical 13 by Jason Robert Brown, Dan Elish, and Robert Horn, the movie follows Evan (Eli Golden) who is forced to move from NYC to Indiana just as he's getting ready to throw the perfect bar mitzvah. Patrice takes him under her wing after he arrives to the new—and very different—city. However, they began to clash once Evan decides to branch out and make a few more friends.
We asked Uhl 13 questions about booking her “dream role” of Patrice, her character’s journey throughout the movie, what she thinks is the “lamest place in the world," and more.
1. What was your reaction to booking the role of Patrice in 13: The Musical?
Gabriella Uhl: We found out on the final Zoom call because all of the casting was done virtually. I gasped, started crying, and sank to the floor, out of view from everyone else on the Zoom! Patrice was totally my dream role and I could not have been happier. We had been at home for almost a whole year at that point because of the pandemic, so when my mom and I left for Canada [to film] a few weeks later, nobody knew we were gone. It was still really hard to not tell anyone I got the part! Casting wasn't announced until almost three months later.
2. How did you prepare for your audition? What song did you perform?
My very first audition was in New York City in person, in March of 2020. I sang a cut from "Beautiful" by Carole King. Then everything shut down for like 6 months and the next bunch of auditions and work sessions were on tape and on Zoom. For those, I was asked to sing the iconic Patrice songs, "What It Means to Be a Friend" and "Lamest Place in the World." Like so many theatre kids, I had been singing those songs forever, but that almost made them harder to prepare for this audition because I understood how hard Jason Robert Brown's music is to sing well. My voice teacher and I spent a lot of time working on the storytelling aspect of my performance. The creative team made it really easy for me when they said, "We know how well you can sing, don't worry about your voice. Focus on telling us something we don't already know about Patrice."
3. How would you tease Patrice’s journey throughout the movie?
Patrice grows up a lot in the movie. She's a big city girl in a small town and she feels like Evan is her ticket out of that place where she's so misunderstood. When he chooses the other kids at school over her friendship, it hurts her, but she learns to be compassionate about his struggles as the new kid at a new school.
4. In what ways do you relate to Patrice?
I'm from a small town, so I totally understand how Patrice felt so misunderstood. Patrice had a friendship with Evan's grandma. I also have an easy time relating to adults.
5. What do you most admire about Patrice?
I really admire that she doesn't back down from what she values and believes in just to impress others or fit in. She stays true to herself.
6. If you could put Patrice in any other musical, what would it be and why?
I think Patrice would have an absolute blast showing someone around New York City for 24 hours, so I'd put her in On the Town! Bonus points if I get to be Patrice when she's in On the Town because of how amazing Joshua Bergasse's choreography was in the revival!
7. How did your stage experience prepare you to film 13: The Musical?
I learned in the theater how important it is to behave professionally at all times, to listen and take direction. I also learned on tour how much we depend on the crew! The crew on the School of Rock tour were, and still are, some of my favorite people and role models. I was ready to be productive and safe on set because of how much I learned about theatre arts.
8. What was your biggest challenge performing on screen rather than on stage?
The first challenge was developing a different kind of endurance. In a stage show, I have to do eight shows a week, but I have to get everything right the first time because it's the only time that audience will experience the show! In film, we might shoot only one scene in a full day, but I have to focus well enough to do it as many times as it takes to get it just right. Also, on stage, we have to make everything so much bigger, so every person in that theatre—no matter how far away they're sitting—feels what I'm feeling and can get swept away in the story. On screen, the camera is right in my face! If my storytelling is too big, it just looks ridiculous.
9. What do you hope is next in your career?
I know that being a young person with the experiences I've had is unique and if I never work again, I still have so much to be proud of and happy about. But, of course, I hope there's some new show coming to Broadway with a young teen girl role that I can audition for and originate!
10. What career would you want to pursue if not acting?
Dogs. Something with dogs. Maybe I could work at a doggy daycare? A dog walker? I want to be friends with all the dogs.
11. How did you celebrate your thirteenth birthday?
I turned 13 during the first year of the pandemic. My family rented a house that week so we could be in some space other than our house, which we hadn't left in months except to get groceries or go for walks. My sister's birthday is the same week as mine, and it was just nice to be someplace new for a little while.
12. What's your dream theatre role?
Patrice was my dream role for so long that this is a hard question now! I grew up obsessed with Singin' in the Rain, so one dream role is Kathy Selden.
13. Where do you think the "lamest place in the world" is?
I don't think I know yet! I've been all over North America and I can honestly say I've loved something about every place I've been to so far.