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Eli Golden hopes '13' leads him to Broadway

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Eli Golden wants to be on Broadway. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Diani
Eli Golden wants to be on Broadway. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Diani

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 11 (UPI) -- The Netflix original movie, 13: The Musical, premiering Friday, stars Eli Golden in his first lead role. The 14-year-old actor said he hopes showing off his singing and dance moves lands him on Broadway.

"I'd definitely love to be on Broadway when I'm older," Golden told UPI in a recent phone interview.

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Golden was 13 when he filmed the movie, and he turns 15 in September. 13 stars Golden as Evan Goldman, a 12-year-old preparing for his bar mitzvah.

Golden said he did not have a bar mitzvah when he became 13. However, he said he enjoyed the bar mitzvah production Netflix threw for him.

"That bar mitzvah was my bar mitzvah," Golden said. "How many other people can say they got Netflix to pay for their bar mitzvah?"

Evan's parents get divorced, and his mother, Jessica (Debra Messing), moves to Indiana with her mother (Rhea Perlman). Evan has to make new friends and make sure he has enough people to invite to his bar mitzvah. He has to study Hebrew, too.

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13 is based on the Broadway musical, and Golden filmed the opening title song, "13," on the streets of New York and Toronto. He noted that in New York, the crew kept the noise to a minimum and did not play the soundtrack on loudspeakers.

"We had to all wear earwigs," Golden said. "All the dancers and me had to wear earwigs to hear the music because New York didn't allow people to play music outside."

Once Evan arrives at his new school, he sings about the horror movie Bloodmaster to make new friends. He said the Bloodmaster song required the most dancing he did.

"It was so rehearsed it was to a point where we knew it like the back of our hands," Golden said. "Also, I loved the number because I love the high notes at the end."

"A Little More Homework" includes most of the cast and ensemble dancers. Golden said he filmed his section for an entire day, while the crew spent a second day filming angles on his scene partners.

"I came back very tired that day because you had to be on the whole time," Golden said. "It's really the time where everyone was together."

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13: The Musical runs approximately 90 minutes, so it does not include every song from the stage production. Golden said he missed some songs, but understood why time did not allow for all of them.

"'Being a Geek,' I really like ['A Little More Homework'], and I also really like 'It Can't Get Be True' because that's a great song," Golden said. "This [adaptation] is impeccable. I'm really happy with how it turned out, no matter what."

Growing up in New York City, Golden saw 13 on stage several times before he landed the role in the movie. He said he also saw 13 in local productions and theater camps, and he took in another performance after wrapping the film.

"I don't think anyone knew I was there because I sat in the back with a hoodie," Golden said. "I was singing along with all the songs."

When 13: The Musical was casting, Golden said he submitted an audition tape. Asked to prepare a song, Golden chose "Waving Through the Window" from Dear Evan Hansen, one of his favorite shows.

Five more auditions followed, including three singing auditions and a dancing audition. Golden said he relied on his work with vocal coaches Alyson Isbrandtsen and Chris York, theater camps and local theater productions for his work in 13: The Musical.

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Golden said he remembered seeing his first Broadway production at age 5, and laughing at the song "Mr. Cellophane" in Chicago. Golden said a neighbor was a commercial producer looking for young actors, and he begged his mom to audition when he was 6.

"My mom was expecting me not to get it," Golden said. "It really did backfire because I got it and that's where it all started for the most part."

Since his commercial work, Golden had roles on the shows Sneaky Pete, Orange is the New Black and Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector. He also appeared in films The Wizard of Lies and Hide and Seek before 13.

Until he lands on Broadway, Golden has more ambitions in Hollywood. He said he would like to be in an action movie, admires the films of Tom Cruise and wishes he could have been in Top Gun: Maverick.

Golden finished seventh grade on the set of 13: The Musical. Though college is still four years away, he already has picked his dream school.

"I want to go to Northwestern so bad," Golden said. "If I don't get into Northwestern, I'm going to be so sad."

Golden said he wants to study music business at Northwestern. He recently released his own single, "Back to Me," and is planning a five-song EP.

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Golden said he would like to learn more about the music business, such as what it takes to sign with a label and release a full album. For now, he is experimenting with musical styles and his influences.

"Think if Bruno Mars and Charlie Puth could sing lower and were a kid," Golden said. "Think Olivia Rodrigo, but the guy perspective. Anderson Pak, Rihanna, Frank Ocean -- all of them really influence my music."

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