Wow! Who knew Broadway could really do a rock show, that sounded like rock. Well Andrew Lloyd Webber has gone back to his roots (Jesus Christ Superstar) and joined together with Glenn Slater and Julian Fellowes to rock Broadway. Based on Mike White’s 2003 movie starring Jack Black School of Rock is blasting down the house and creating standing ovations.
These terrific young actors, not only act, sing, dance and play instruments, you can honestly understand everything they are saying. Under the guidance of Dewey Finn (Alex Brightman) they also blossom.
Having never seen the movie, this was my first foray into this world where Dewey gets kicked out of his own band for upstaging the lead singer, has been squatting rent-free, at his best friends and former band mate Ned Schneebly (Spencer Moses). His wife Patti (Mamie Parris) is through with this arrangement and wants rent. When a private school calls for Ned to substitute teach, Dewey who answers the phone sees a way to pay the rent. The irresponsible Dewey posing as Ned shows up late his first day and runs into the school head Mistress Rosalie Mullins (Sierra Boggess). When he learns the kids can play musical instruments game is on to enter The Battle of the Bands. By the end Dewey turns his uptight classroom into rockers and boosts their moral for extra credit.
Standouts are Isabella Russo as the band manager, guitarist Zach (Brandon Niederauer), keyboardist Lawrence (Jared Parker), bassist Katie (Evie Dolan), drummer Freddie (Dante Melucci) and lead singer Tomika (Bobbie MacKenzie).
Alex Brightman’s performance is infectious. He turns what could have been an unlikeable character and allows us to see what the kids see. His energy is through the roof. We believe every step of his journey and he wins us over.
Songs like “You’re in the Band” and “Stick It To The Man” will have you cheering and wanting to dance along. Laurence Connor’s direction is spot on and entertaining. Not once was I bored. JoAnn M. Hunter’s choreography does the job. Anna Louizos sets and costumes, Natasha Katz lighting or the Mick Potter sound are all perfect.
Andrew Lloyd Webber welcome back, This show has you back on you’re a game.
I am not sure how my other critics will feel, but I have a feeling no matter what they say kids and their parents might have the last word. This show doesn’t just get passing grades, but moves to the head of the class.
School of Rock: Winter Garden Theatre, 1634 Broadway between 50th and 51st St.