Andrew Lloyd Webber’s School of Rock is entertaining but pales in comparison to the movie with Jack Black. If it weren’t for the cast of exceptionally talented children I would give it a lower grade.
As in the movie, Dewey Finn is an aging, wanna be rock star. His band dismisses him just before they are scheduled to compete in a Battle of the Bands so he takes refuge at his best friend Ned’s house. Only Ned’s girlfriend wants Dewey gone because he’s a freeloader. To earn money he scams his way into a job as a substitute teacher at an elite private school full of overachieving kids. He connects with them through music and teaches them that rock n roll can help them “Stick it to the Man” – one of the few catchy songs in this play. A classroom audition is held and “You’re in the Band” showcases the talents of the young cast. So Dewey has a new band with which to compete at the Battle. Well…you know how it ends – or maybe you don’t. Suffice it to say there are a lot of lessons packaged in this musical.
School of Rock could have been so much better. The orchestra was too loud which muddied many of the voices, so lyrics integral to the show were lost. The sound manager seemed to turn the volume down for the kids and, at least then, you could understand what what was sung. The night I saw School of Rock, Alex Brightman’s understudy Jonathan Wagner performed, as Dewey. Unfortunately neither he nor the rest of the adult supporting actors could compete with the young actors. This multi-talented and charming crew stole the show. When Tamika (Bobbi Mackenzie) sings “Amazing Grace”, I felt myself holding my breath. What a pair of lungs on such a little girl! Although School of Rock didn’t pass my test of what I’d consider great theater, it was cute and did entertain. LAR
Winter Garden Theater, 1634 Broadway
Ticket prices: $79-$155
Discounts available: $59-$109 at Theatermania
Running time: 2 hours 20 minutes, one intermission
Runs thru: tickets on sale thru October 2, 2016