Adapted from the hit Hollywood film, School of Rock now comes to the stage in this smash musical with original songs by Broadway legend Andrew Lloyd Weber! Featuring lyrics by Glenn Slater and book by Julian Fellowes, this adaptation recaptures the magic and amusement of the 2003 movie starring Jack Black.
The musical mostly follows the plot of the film; rock guitarist Dewey Finn gets unceremoniously fired from his band, and in desperation for rent money impersonates his friend Ned as a substitute teacher at a local prestigious prep school. However, when he learns the kids have musical talent, he forms them into a band and starts teaching them the ins and outs of rock and roll!
The songs performed in the film carry over to this stage adaptation, with 14 original tunes by Weber. They run the spectrum from traditional show tune style (If Only You Would Listen), to folk rock (Where Did the Rock Go?), to the classic rock (You’re in the Band) that Dewey so passionately supports.
The lead role of Dewey is played by Merritt David Janes, and while the movie’s portrayal by Jack Black looms large, Janes makes it his own. It never feels like an impersonation, and coupled with his impressive acrobatics jumping around the set, and belting the show’s songs from his strong pipes, he commands the show whenever he’s on stage.
The kids are just as impressive, both singing their hearts out and playing their own instruments in the band. They also possess superb comic timing, and play off Dewey’s antics extraordinarily well.
Even the supporting cast like Layne Roate as Dewey’s pushover friend Ned, and Madison Micucci as his dominating girlfriend Patty, along with Lexie Dorsett Sharp as the prep school Principal Rosalie are stupendous. Sharp in particular gets to show off her singing in her solo number “Where Did the Rock Go?” and when she leads the kids in a classroom instruments rendition of Mozart’s famous Queen of the Night aria.
The story itself is also very rich in its resonance. The kids in the class are all enthusiasts of music, but their parents are pushing them into lifestyles and activities that do not interest them. The ultimate message being presented is to follow what your heart wants, and that theme is both relatable and well presented in the show.
The overall presentation is also marvelous. The costumes of the prep school students and faculty were as prim and proper as possible, creating a hilarious contrast to Dewey’s slob wardrobe when he shows up to teach. The lighting additionally makes you feel like you’re at a rock concert, swelling to a crescendo in the climactic concert equaling that of the music being performed.
A fun time at the theater for kids and adults awaits at the Paramount. The story is uplifting and heartwarming, the humor played fast and lively, and most importantly, the music rocks!
School of Rock is on a limited engagement at the Paramount Theater for the rest of this week, through May 19, with evening shows Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and an afternoon and evening show on Saturday and Sunday.