I have heard that actors stray from scripts that highlight children and dogs. I understand the logic, now that I have seen “School of Rock: The Musical.”
Here, though, the fact that the child actors really do play their instruments live adds to the dilemma! These kids are great and steal the show.
Based on a book by Julian Fellowes who was also the creator, sole writer and executive producer of “Downton Abbey” each of his creations reflect two very distinct cultures.
The kids in this high energy musical attend a rigorous New York prep school and exhibit the universal adolescent problems of parents, identity, and especially unrealistic expectations.
Dewey is an unemployed, unsuccessful rock musician living (mostly sleeping) in a basement. Out of financial desperation to pay the rent, he steals the identity of his roommate and becomes the “cool” substitute for a period of weeks at this unknowing prep school.
His classroom technique is, shall we say, unorthodox. He does not teach the fifth graders the 3 R’s, but, discovering they each play an instrument, forms a secret band during the school day with the goal of competing in the Battle of the Bands.
The students are lucky to have him as their substitute. Not only does his escapade lead them to form the band, they learn something about themselves and realize they are each unique in their own way. Dewey learns something about himself in the process.
While “School of Rock: The Musical” follows the storyline of the familiar movie “School of Rock” starring Jack Black, one change from the movie is the attraction between Dewey and Rosalie, the uptight Principal. I am so glad that it included the romance! Lexie Dorsett Sharp’s portrayal of Rosalie is spot-on and her rendition of “Where Did the Rock Go?” was the vocal highlight of the evening.
You’ll also always think of Stevie Nicks in a different way!
But, it may be the musical talents of the kids, of course, that steal the show. And that’s O.K.
Andrew Lloyd Webber has written 14 new songs for the production. Directed by Laurence Connor, the musical was nominated for four Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score, in 2016.
Join in the rebellion and rebirth of the these prep school students and enjoy the production. You’ll be singing “Stick It to the Man” all the way home!
“School of Rock: The Musical” runs through November 18 at the Kansas City Music Hall. For tickets go to the website or call 816-421-7500.
–Reviewed by Anita Widaman