Review: School Of Rock Gets A Passing Grade

School of Rock, The Musical is playing at Seattle’s Paramount Theatre through May 19, 2019. Get tickets and info here.

The current trend on Broadway is to take a movie and transform it to the stage. One of the latest adaptations is by Andrew Lloyd Webber. The film is the Jack Black comedy, School of Rock and it has been put on the stage, currently playing at Seattle’s Paramount Theatre.

The story of the show is not original or unique, but it is still a fun presentation. Dewey is a washed-up musician, squatting at a friend’s apartment, and was thrown out from his rock band “No Vacancies” right before The Battle of the Bands Contest. Having neither money nor prospects, Dewey’s friends give him the ultimatum of paying the rent or getting thrown out onto the streets. When a phone call comes in from a prestigious prep school offering his roommate a substitute teaching job, Dewey takes it thinking its an easy way to get the money he needs. When he comes across the Music Class and the kids playing their instruments, Dewey sees his chance. He decides to use the kids to form a new band and compete in the contest. The children are all ignored by their parents in one way or another, and Dewey teaches them what is important; finding out who you are and what you love to do, and that sometimes, what is expected of you is not what you want to do with your life. They find their individual niches and join in Dewey’s dream plan to compete in The Battle of the Bands.

The musical is a fun show, pure fluff and stuffing. The story line is a bit cliché but it’s based on a Jack Black comedy, so that should really tell the viewer everything they need to know. The star of the show is really the children, and they all do good jobs in their assorted roles. Audiences love to applaud kids – no matter how they act on stage – and Seattle audiences are not exceptions. These kids deserve it as they all do a good job in the roles they are given.  Each kid has a chance to stand out and be noticed by the audience, and each child knows where, when and how to take their lead without being overtly precocious. A SPECIAL SHOUT OUT GOES TO Mystic Inscho (Zack on electric guitar), Cameron Trueblood (Freddy on drums), Leanne Parks (Katie on base guitar) and Julian Brescia (Lawrence on keyboard) as these kids ACTUALLY PLAY THEIR OWN INSTRUMENTS DURING THE SHOW! And they do it with fantastic flair and gusto!

The adults in the show are there for setting and staging and add little else to the presentation. Most of the adults double up from being the ‘parents’ of the kids to being ‘school teachers’ at Horace Green School. The two exceptions are the two leads. Lexie Dorsett Sharp plays “Rosalie” the principal for Horace Green Preparatory School. Ms. Sharp plays the role with the typical ‘up tight’ behavior that we would expect from the role of a ‘schoolmarm’, or in this case “Principalmarm”. Her singing voice is sharp (and delightful) as she teaches the kids the music of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, and she sings along with the scales.

School of Rock Tour. Photo by Evan Zimmerman-MurphyMade (6)

School of Rock Tour. (Photo by Evan Zimmerman / MurphyMade)

Merritt David Janes plays Dewey. Direct from the Broadway cast (where he was in the Ensemble.) Mr. Janes takes over the lead role of Dewey. Dewey is played as an immature dreamer, slovenly and focused on his being in a band and not much else. Mr. Janes uses the right amount of obnoxious appeal (that would make Jack Black proud) and dull-witted antics that bring the character to life. His voice is strong and he sings the rock songs with verve. The character has appeal although the audience never fully identifies with him, nor feels an overly amount of empathy for his situations.

School of Rock is a fun, silly little show that will please crowds. It’s the kind of show you turn your brain off and enjoy the frivolous fun knowing that it could never happen in real life. The music is good and a break from Lloyd Webber’s usual productions; he departs from his ‘pop opera’ format – there are actually many scenes with spoken dialogue and NO musical background accompaniment. The music is good (the main songs “Stick it to the Man” and “School of Rock” are catchy tunes with decent lyrics) and will stay with the audience for a day or so at most, unless they are diehard fans and listen to the cast album. The lyricist of the show is Glenn Slater, who is the Grammy-winning lyricist (2010) for Disney’s film “Tangled”, as well as the added songs for the stage musical adaptations of “The Little Mermaid” and “Sister Act”. He also provided the book and lyrics to Lloyd Webber’s Love Never Dies so really, caveat emptor!

School of Rock is based on the Jack Black comedy film (2003) by the same name. The movie stared Jack Black as Dewey and Joan Cusack as Principal Rosalie. The musical adaptation opened on Broadway November 10, 2015 and ran for over 1000 performances. Originally staring Alex Brightman (as Dewey) and Sierra Boggess (as Principal Rosalie) the show was nominated for four (2016) Tony Awards (winning none) including Best Musical, Best Score, Best Book and Best Actor in a Musical (Brightman).

School of Rock, The Musical is playing at Seattle’s Paramount Theatre through May 19, 2019. Get tickets and info here.

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Eric Andrews-Katz

Eric Andrews-Katz

Eric Andrews-Katz has short stories included in over 10 anthologies. He is the author of the Agent Buck 98 Series (“The Jesus Injection” and “Balls & Chain”), and the author of the Greek myth series beginning with the novel TARTARUS. He has conducted celebrity interviews with some of the biggest and best names on Broadway, Hollywood and in literature. He can be found at: http://www.EricAndrewsKatz.com

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