Written by Joy and Tzivi
School’s out! But not for the amazing kids who rock out on a Broadway stage every night. School of Rock is some of the best fun you’ll have at the theater. By the end of the show, I wanted to get up on stage and dance with them.
When I walked in to the Winter Garden Theater, I didn’t know what to expect. Since the show is based off the 2003 film School of Rock, I didn’t know if it was it going to be just like the movie or would it be totally different.
With music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, you can assume it will be good, but I was happily surprised to see just how good it actually was. Weber kept the signature movie songs and added some catchy and heartwarming new ones, always keeping the rock atmosphere present. The lyrics are by Glenn Slater, with a book by Julian Fellowes and direction by Laurence Connor. At certain times you feel like you’re at a real rock concert instead of a Broadway theater.
Alex Brightman plays the lead, Dewey, a down-on-his-luck wannabe rock star, whose dream is to win the Battle of the Bands. After being kicked out of his band, he impersonates his best friend, Ned, to become a substitute teacher in a prestigious prep school, Horace Green Prep. Dewey quickly realizes his class can replace the band he lost, so he gets to work training the kids in all things rock. Alex is a pure genius in the role. He has so much energy it’s like he’s one of the kids. He lights up the stage while playing guitar, singing and acting— seriously, is there anything he can’t do? He’s great teacher and gets the whole class to love him and rock out with him.
The children at Horace Green are in a class of their own! The class is made up of some of the most talented kids on Broadway. Each one is energetic and adorable, and has a chance to shine on stage, especially the four band members who play the guitar, bass, keyboard and drums— all live! When Tomika, played by Bobbi MacKenzie, sings the reprise of “If Only You Would Listen,” she melts your heart. Katie, the bass player, played by Evie Dolan, shreds your face off with her awesome skills and super cute pout. Luca Padovan plays Billy, the band stylist, and while he is known for saying, “you’re tacky and I hate you,” I definitely love him. Summer the band manager is played by Isabella Russo, and has some of the best one-liners and feminist quotes, and her song “Time to Play,” a quick-paced tune showing off her organizational skills, really highlights Ms. Russo’s singing. Other standout roles include Jared Parker, who plays the keyboard with impeccable dexterity, Dante Melucci, who gives the music life with his incredible drum skills (he also gets some pretty funny one-liners), and of course, Zack, the guitarist, played by Brandon Niederauer, who shows off his expertise by matching the skills of the other guitarist, Alex Brightman himself.
Sierra Boggess plays the principal, Rosalie Mullins, who appears to be uptight and boring, but may have more to her character beneath the surface. Sierra brings a lot of heart and comedy to the role, while also having the chance to use her incredible vocals, in the songs “Queen of the Night” and “Where Did the Rock Go?” Having worked with Andrew Lloyd Weber before on The Phantom of the Opera and Love Never Dies, Sierra seems like an obvious pick for the role of this complex woman, and she carries the role beautifully.
You have to hand it to Weber— there are no dud songs in this show. The big numbers “Stick it to the Man” and “You’re in the Band,” are fun and silly, while also having the added wow factor of having the children play their instruments.
One of the best additions to the story is the added element of seeing the children’s home lives. In the movie, there is a small storyline concerning Zack and his disapproving father, but the musical explores this further by showing us the lives of multiple children, and allowing them to express their frustrations with adults who refuse to listen.
School of Rock is a fantastic show that will appeal to “kids” of all ages. Don’t wait—run to the Winter Garden Theater and get ready to ROCK!
Here’s what you should keep in mind about School of Rock should you decide to see it:
- Comfortable seats
- Great show that the whole family can enjoy
- Excellent views
- The set and costume design is amazing
- Amazing cast
- The lighting and staging of the show is amazing