I’m usually hard to please when it comes to movie comedies but one recent film that did hit the right chord with me was “School of Rock,” the 2003 musical comedy that had just the right mix of Jack Black, humor, kids and rock.
It surely came as no surprise when it was announced that the movie was being retooled for Broadway in 2014. What may have surprised some was the news that musical icon Andrew Lloyd Webber would be involved in the project. It’s a long way from “Phantom of the Opera” to the “School of Rock.”
Working from the screenplay by Mike White, Webber (music), Glenn Slater (lyrics) and Julian Fellowes (book) crafted a theatrical experience with all the fun and exuberance of the movie.
Rob Colletti stars as Dewey Finn, a wannabe rock god (with emphasis on wannabe) whose enthusiasm is greater than his talent. Fed up with his antics, his partners kick him out of his band right before the big Battle of the Bands competition.
Dewey retreats to his bedroom, in an apartment that he shares (without paying rent) with his best friend Ned Schneebly (Matt Bittner) and Ned’s girlfriend Patty (Emily Borromeo). Patty wants Dewey’s freeloading days to end.
While moping about the house, Dewey answers a phone call from Horace Green, a prestigous prep school. The school is looking to hire Ned for a substitute teaching gig. Dewey decides to impersonate Ned to earn some much-needed cash.
At first Dewey plans to bluff his way through the day with lots of recess but when he discovers several of his students are talented musicians he comes up with a new class project. Now he just has to raise his students’ confidence levels, whip them into shape as a band, and keep their parents and the school principal (Lexie Dorsett Sharp) unaware of what’s going on.
“School of Rock: The Musical” follows the film pretty closely, cutting out bits here and there to make room for more music. The score features three songs from the movie – including the title track – and a dozen songs written for the stage, highlighted by the anthemic “Stick It to the Man.”
Colletti does a fine job capturing the manic energy of Jack Black, while the young cast members (too many to name) prove to be just as talented — or maybe moreso — as the adults in the show. The kids are alright at jumping up and down, singing in harmony, and especially at rocking out.
School of Rock runs through January 28 at the Fox Theatre. https://www.fabulousfox.com/