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Andrew Lloyd Webber Presents "School of Rock" at the Winter Garden
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Andrew Lloyd Webber Presents "School of Rock" at the Winter Garden

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Andrew Lloyd Webber
et al.
Present:

School of Rock
www.schoolofrockthemusical.com

Book by Julian Fellowes
Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Lyrics by Glenn Slater
Based on the Paramount Movie Written by Mike White

With:
Alex Brightman
Sierra Boggess, Spencer Moses, Mamie Parris

And an Ensemble of Actors / Singers / Dancers

Directed by Laurence Connor
Choreographed by Joann M. Hunter
Music Supervisor: Ethan Popp

At the
Winter Garden
1634 Broadway
NY, NY
212-239-6200

Scenic and Costume Design: Anna Louizos
Lighting Design: Natasha Katz
Sound Design: Mick Potter
Casting: Tara Rubin Casting / Merri Sugarman, CSA
Music Director: Darren Ledbetter
Hair Design: Josh Marquette
Production Stage Manager: Bonnie L. Becker
Production Management: Aurora Productions
Digital: Situation Interactive
Press Representative: DKC / O&M
Advertising/Marketing: SpotCo
General Management: Bespoke Theatricals
Music Coordinators: Michael Keller / Michael Aarons
Orchestrations by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Executive Producers: Nina Lannan &
Madeleine Lloyd Webber

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
February 26, 2016


As a former teacher and school director, who created music and dance programs in classrooms, I must say that Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new musical, School of Rock, based on the Paramount movie by Mike White, was far more enticing than I expected. After my hearing reached normal capacity, following the opening ultra-high volume electronic overture, I was drawn into the engaging, upbeat plot. This is a show that children (and many adults) will love. It’s a bit of sitcom, like the down on his luck couch-surfer, Dewey (Alex Brightman), answering the phone of his friend and host, Ned (Spencer Moses), and pretending he’s Ned to get an extended substitute teacher job. Conveniently, Ned’s girlfriend, Patty (Mamie Parris), is always one closed door away from Dewey’s serendipitous stunt. As it’s a private school, the “upbeat” motif continues, with stiff, starchy school staff, uniforms, and kids with lots of talent and creative minds of their own. And, it helps that the school principal, Rosalie (Sierra Boggess), is addicted to the same music that Dewey plays on the jukeboxes. It also helps that, coincidentally, the substitute teacher is alone with his personality-plus kids for much of the time, so he can turn them into a rock band (all that he knows how to teach) and enter them into an important rock competition. The parents are straight out of cartoon heaven, self-absorbed, clueless, impressionable, and seemingly on their way to or from a golf course.

But, it’s the child actors, here competing in a bigger league than a local rock competition – Broadway, that steal the show. Bobbi MacKenzie, as Tomika, stops the music with her solo, “Amazing Grace”. Unfortunately, the program doesn’t match the other individual students with their actual names, instruments, or songs, presumably because child casts may change from day to day. I, for one, was astounded at the instrumental and vocal talent of the dozen or so incredible child performers. The program’s head shot page mixed children and adults in alphabetical order, so it was impossible to pinpoint the show’s child leads, especially with the hyped sound system. Yet, one thing was clear. This extraordinary ensemble of students could win any music competition, anywhere, any time. Mr. Brightman treated the kids as artistic peers, within the comedic drama and as actor-actor. There was a natural camaraderie that shone throughout. The Dewey-Rosalie relationship, as noted, right out of retro sitcoms, began as a clash and ended in a kiss. The staff of Horace Green, the fictional private school, is a comical bunch, so type drawn that it’s adorable. But, among the adults, it’s Mr. Brightman and Ms. Boggess that have the inner glow that blends with the charisma of the kids. Their evening date, with a nearby jukebox lending its tunes, and a friendly bar waiter serving a few doses of liquor, was predictably root-worthy, and you just knew that Dewey had another hit on his hands.

Julian Fellowes’ book, Glenn Slater’s lyrics, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music, and Laurence Connor’s direction merged into a bright, engaging show for all ages and musical tastes. Yet, Mick Potter’s sound design was one for outdoor stages and rock clubs, not Broadway theater. I and my guest had temporary, reduced hearing after leaving the show. Anna Louizos’ scenery and costumes were drawn from the school uniforms, with the red/white/blue plaids brilliantly bleeding colors into the backdrops. Natasha Katz’ lighting was showcased in the late, competition scenes. Joann M. Hunter’s choreography was child-oriented and a bit too simplistically aerobic. Ethan Popp’s music supervision, however, kept the songs drawing me in, like “Stick It to the Man”, “School of Rock”, “I’m Too Hot for You”, and even “Math Is a Wonderful Thing”. Alex Brightman, who was reviewed on these pages in a 2010 performance of Wicked, playing a Munchkin, here seems poised in a breakout role. Mr. Brightman, tonight, was consistently in character as a frazzled, high energy entertainer, who made magical musical memories for students entrapped in educational blandness, and who, with great effort, brought their parents and principal along for the ride. Kudos to Mr. Brightman and Ms. Boggess, kudos to the superb cast of children, and kudos to Mr. Lloyd Webber for this very worthy show.




Alex Brightman and
The Kids of "School of Rock" - The Musical
Courtesy of Matthew Murphy




Alex Brightman and Sierra Boggess
in "School of Rock" - The Musical
Courtesy of Matthew Murphy


For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net