“Where did the rock go?
Where’s the rush of those electric guitars?
Where are all those voices raised in heaven,
Blazing down like shooting stars?” ~ School of Rock
Every year around my sister’s anniversary and birthday, I go to a Broadway show. After she was killed I wanted a way to honor her and I knew she would kick my derrière if I was wallowing and depressed (which still happens). The first year I went to Paris, (you can’t beat that) the second year I had moved to New York six months prior and ended up flying home to be with family. Then started the trend of Broadway shows. This is the fifth year that I have gone to a show.
It is two and a half hours of getting outside my head, escaping into a world of fantastic music and acting, being surrounded by fellow theatre enthusiasts, where my crazy disjointed emotions are channeled into a constructive direction.
My choices of shows have varied through the years. While I don’t necessairly want to be depressed, their is nothing like a good crying jag. (thank you Les Mis and Finding Neverland).
This year I ended up picking a lighthearted comedy, School of Rock.
You may have seen the 2003 movie staring Jack Black which has cultivated a cult following. It is the story of an egotistical, somewhat washed up musician, Dewey, who gets kicked out of the band he started for his spot-light stealing antics. Living with his best friend Ned, who’s girlfriend strongly dislikes Dewey, they threaten to kick him out if he doesn’t pay his share of the rent. Ned who is a substitute teacher, gets a phone call to work at a prestigious prep school. Dewey who answers the call, decides to impersonate him. A lackluster teacher, he becomes inspired when he hears the students in music class. He decides to use them to create a band to compete at the prestigious Battle Of The Bands and fulfill his dreams of being a successful rockstar.
The musical stays true to the movie. The lead actor even bears a strong resemblance to Jack Black. Andrew Lloyd Webber famed for more dramatic and darker pieces like Phantom of the Opera and Cats created the score for the show producing a more upbeat and edgier musical to fit into the rocker theme.
I am always in awe of child performers and the kids who were in School of Rock were incredible. It may or may not have made me seriously question my life goals because hello these eight years old are on Broadway! I think I was still playing in the sand box at eight years old! As Andrew Lloyd Webber (in a pre-taped) announced at the beginning, the kids really do play the instruments. So not only are they singing and acting, but they are ACTUALLY PLAYING LIVE! And they call Miley Cyrus a triple threat!
Seriously these kids will melt your heart. The song “If only you would listen” especially tugged at the heart strings. It is a song about parents thinking they know what their kids want, and not paying attention to their dreams and real life goals. In a society that is so focused on social media as well as being the best at everything, it resonated not just on stage, but in life.
Jonathan Wagner who plays Dewey had boundless energy, as he sang, danced, and played his way across the stage. He never broke character even during curtain calls, staying true to his crazy persona. Jenn Gambatese who plays Marcy, was also excellent, toeing the line between being the strict principle, and being passionate about rock and her students. Her song of “Where Did The Rock go,” sent chills down my spine, and has since been on repeat on my playlist.
The Winter Garden Theatre
I have been in a lot of theatres, and Winter Garden Theatre which was built in 1896 but redesigned as a theatre in 1911, is by far my favorite. The grandiose design, takes you back to when theatre really was a black-tie event and people would dress up. It has even kept many of the boxed seats, furthering that old time nostalgia. It is also one of the most spacious. While many theaters cram you in, leg cramps are not a concern here. It is huge, yet has amazing views of the stage regardless of where you sit.
Laugh Out Loud
From the opening scene, School of Rock was laugh out loud funny. While it is kid friendly, there were many adult nuances that had me clutching my side with laughter. The music had me toe-tapping, and the sets were eye catching, as they seamlessly yet intricately moved about the stage. It is a show that is a well oiled machine with consummate actors and actresses.
Not going to lie this year has been especially difficult, and while sometimes you need a good cry fest, the belly laughs I got from watching this production were much needed. Yet like most Broadway shows, it was still incredibly heartfelt. For fans of the movie, you will love this production and those who are looking for a fun Broadway experience will also hands down enjoy this show.
Have you seen the movie “School of Rock” or the musical? what did you think of it?