When one thinks of Sir Andrew Lloyd Weber, the epic musicals that usually come to mind include Cats, The Phantom of the Opera and Sunset Boulevard. Well, Broadway in Chicago’s latest tour is going to expand that definition from prancing felines and dramatic divas to also include the silly antics of an under-qualified substitute teacher and prepubescent youths, shredding on heavy-metal bass guitars. Based on the 2003 Jack Black feature film, School of Rock The Musical is making its Windy City debut. Directed by Laurence Conner and featuring a book by Julian Fellowes, original score from Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Glenn Slater, this Rock rolls on for nearly three hours. While not perfect, the second act runs far too long, all is forgiven when the minors come out for some major play.
The story follows the film rather closely. Lovable loser, Dewey Finn (Rob Colletti) starts out as a rock band’s failed lead guitarist and quickly ends up a substitute teacher at a prestigious prep school. With the unquenchable desire to enter and win the local Battle of the Bands rock contest, Dewey transforms his young class into face-melting, guitar-shredding, bass-thumping, contemporary rock musicians. Lessons quickly tweak from arithmetic to swagger. All the while, and to give a little something to the adults in the audience, Dewey falls for the regimented, uptight, headmistress, Rosalie (Lexie Dorsett Sharp).
The kids in the cast range in age from 9 to 13, each liberating their buttoned up prep school exterior to release their inner rock gods and goddesses. The class includes over a dozen kids that will tickle your funny bone, including the uptight know-it-all, Summer (Ava Briglia) the equally shy singer, Tomika (Gianna Harris) and lead guitarist, Zack (Alex Louis). I challenge anyone to not tap a toe to the infectious fun that includes the originals “Stick It To The Man”, “In The End Of Time” and the title track “School of Rock.”
The remaining creative team of School of Rock The Musical includes whimsical choreography from JoAnn M. Hunter, eye catching costume design by Anna Louizos, concert infused lighting design from Natasha Katz, sound design by Mick Potter and music supervision by Ethan Popp. The full scale set proving this is no small show designed just for kids.
Contemporary fun, School of Rock The Musical proves a welcomed release from the realities of the world. The kids in this cast will warm the hearts of any mid-November chilly Chicagoan for a few hours. Don’t be tardy for the winning lessons of School of Rock The Musical.
School of Rock The Musical is now playing through November 19 at the Oriental Theatre