Richard Linklater’s 2003 film School of Rock is one of my favorites. It’s the type of film for me that I have to watch if I see it on television. The cast, the music, the heart — there’s so much about that film that I adore. So, when I was given the opportunity to attend School of Rock: The Musical on Broadway, I jumped at the chance. I hoped it would have that same wonderful spirit that the film embodied. Thankfully, it does.
School of Rock: The Musical is a fun, heartwarming, and thoroughly entertaining time at the theater. As in the movies, the Broadway version follows Dewey Finn, a failed, wannabe rock star who masquerades as a substitute teacher at a prestigious prep school to make a few extra dollars. When learns many of his straight-A students are also classical music prodigies, he tries to turn them into a face-melting rock group for a battle of the bands contest.
Since the musical takes place mostly at school, the most important aspect of the show is the performance of the children and this wonderfully diverse cast does not disappoint. And they all play their instruments throughout the show. They are immensely talented on stage and even more impressive off stage. During a Q&A session after the performance, the young actors discussed the various instruments they play. Several shared that they actually learned instruments just for the show.
In addition, the consensus among the children in the cast is that the most impactful song is “If Only You Would Listen,” a number that reveals the backstories of all the children. It’s a highlight, and they are truly the heart of School of Rock: The Musical. I will say that I didn’t find the show suitable for children the age of my first-grader, due to some language and content. The film was PG-13, so use that as a guide.
It’s tough to follow in the footsteps of Jack Black, the originator of the Dewey Finn role in the movie, but Merritt David Janes does a really nice job in the lead. I was particularly pleased to see that the role of Horace Green School headmaster Rosalie Mullins was fleshed out in the musical and Jenn Gambatese is delightful.
School of Rock: The Musical features only the original music from the movie (except for a few snippets of the Rollings Stones and Deep Purple) as well as an original score by the incomparable Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, who funding an $1.3 million, three-year initiative to support theatre education opportunities for underserved young people and under-resourced U.S. public schools.
School of Rock: The Musical was also nominated for four 2016 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Score, Best Book, and Best Leading Actor in a Musical. So, make your way to the Winter Garden Theater to check out this fantastic show. Ticket prices are as low as $59,
Visit schoolofrockthemusical.com to learn more and to book tickets!
DISCLOSURE: In exchange for an honest review, I received show tickets at no cost.