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
2hr. 15min. (1 intermission)
I really didn't know what to expect from School of Rock. I heard it was good but how could they ever make a Broadway show out of such a cool movie and who could ever take the place of the multitalented (albeit a little self absorbed) Jack Black? Then I remembered that Julian Fellowes (Downton Abbey) wrote the book and the God touched talented Andrew LLoyd Webber (Cats, Phantom,Evita and just about every other fabulous modern musical) wrote the music. However they still had to find someone to play Jack Black's role. Well, let me tell you they certainly found the right man for the job! Alex Brightman gives a stellar performance as Dewey the frustrated rock star/teacher. His energy and talent show no bounds. That is what really makes this show a hit. Before the play begins a taped message from Andrew Lloyd Webber tells the audience that all the performers, including the kids, play their own instruments. I found this to be incredible as soon as I heard these truly gifted kids play. Unbelievable! Two of them in particular knocked my socks off. Evie Dolan is a sixth grader who not only plays the bass like a champ she even has the pout and attitude to put it all together. How that kid with those tiny fingers can glide up and down the fretboard with lightning speed is beyond me! Bobbi Mackenzie has a mesmerizing voice that rocks the house. Remember her name, she is going to be a star! The rest of the band, drummer, guitarist and keyboardist are so good they could put any major group on notice! There are a baker's dozen child performers all of star quality. I don't know if anyone will be singing any of the tunes from School of Rock twenty years from now as they do Memories or Don't Cry for Me Argentina but all the songs are very catchy, fun and supremely delivered. Andrew LLoyed Webber's Cats played at the very same Winter Garden Theater for 18 years. Let's hope School of Rock stays around that long also. If you want to see a rockin' good show, this is the one to see! If you like my reviews please download my app Broadway Jay free from the app store.
When seeing a show during it'seems first preview, you should always leave room for error. I left a LARGE margin because to be honest, anytime I see Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber penned a musical that features Sierra Boggess, I roll my eyes. I've never been a fan of either one but this DEFINITELY made me question my position. Now that I've caused a heart attack tor every Phantom fan, let's get to my actual point. Alex Brightman. WOW. I might be a little Biased since I've been following him and the rest of the (M)orons for a while. (F. Michael Haynie, Drew Gasparini and Andrew Kober) I am so RIDICULOUSLY proud and impressed about how Brightman was able to fill some LARGE shoes placed before him. Jack Black has a tendency to make any character he plays "iconic" and you never can see anyone else playing that role. Brightman took this role and made it his own and it WORKED. He obviously had a great connection with the insanely talented Child actors that were on that stage with him. Speaking of said Children, this was definitely cast well, they kept to the personality of the characters that the crowds of SCHOOL OF ROCK film fans want to see while, once again, being able to make the characters their own. (Billy, Zack and Lawrence were my personal favourite characters) Overall, while there are obviously still some kinks to work out as expected, Andrew Lloyd Webber managed to hook me with this musical and reeled me in as a fan. I give it 5 stars because it's the best time I've had at the theatre in a LONG TIME. Here's to a long run and a successful career for each of those children and Brightman. Cheers.