Rock and roll, properly spelled rock ‘n roll, I believe, can be transformative, or progressive, or divisive. It is sometimes a rebellious shout, sometimes a soulful whisper.
In School of Rock–The Musical, at the Winter Garden Theatre in a predictibly long run, it serves to bring together as much as it does to pull asunder. Based on the motion picture, written by Mike White and starring Jack Black, School of Rock… has lyrics by Glenn Slater, music by Andrew Lloyd Weber and a book by Julian Fellowes, that pretty much steps along with its source.
As in the original, Dewey (Jonathan Wagner, standing in for Alex Brightman, at our performance) is an earnest rocker who mooches off his best friend Ned (Spencer Moses) and is expelled from the band he founded. His dream of climbing to the “top of Mount Rock” looks to be out of reach when Ned’s live-in girlfriend, Patty (Mamie Parris) threatens him with eviction.
Things brighten up for Dewey when he decides to impersonate Ned for a substitute teaching gig at a prestigious prep school. At Horace Green, Dewey meets his future bandmates, the ten-year olds in his class.
School of Rock-The Musical gives rock ‘n roll one other dimension. It is also heartwarming.
The music has variety and offers many opportunities for its stars to shine. The shiniest in School of Rock... are the little scene-stealers who form the eponymous band. These kids can really rock out. They can also act and dance. Standing out, but by no means standing alone in this fabulous young cast, are Isabella Russo as the masterful if somewhat bossy Summer, Luca Padovan as the boy, Billy, who designs costumes for the band, and Jared Parker as Lawrence, the keyboardist. Evie Dolan’s Katie and Brandon Niederauer’s Zack are amazing instrumentalists.
The adults in the ensemble are also excellent, with Jonathan Wagner fulfilling the role as a Jack Black sub to a tee. He is charming and talented, and his interaction with the youngster is wonderful to watch. Sierra Boggess, like her character the principal Rosalie, seems uncomfortable being severe and stern; despite that, Boggess hits some very high notes– she has “music in her,” after all–; in the Queen of the Night scene she soars.
Joann M. Hunter gives children and adults some great rock-centric moves in her smooth choreography. The scenic designs and costumes by Ann Louizos fluently move around a palette of rebellious and straight-laced. Laurence Connor directs with a light touch.
For more information about School of Rock-The Musical, please visit
The Wright Wreport also published a review by TB at VevlynsPen.com