Based Off the 2003 Paramount Pictures Film of the Same Name
This past week, School of Rock – The Musical began previews at the Winter Garden Theatre. It is scheduled to have its official opening night on December 6, 2015. At this point, the show is scheduled for an open ended run. Upon and since its release, the film has been a critical and commercial success, bringing in over $131.3 million at the box office (with a budget of $35 million), amassing a 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and earning Jack Black the MTV Movie Award for Best Comedic Performance, as well as a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical. Beyond the pedigree of its source material, this new musical has a lot of Broadway credibility at its core, mostly because none other than the great Andrew Lloyd Webber stepped up to write the music for the adaptation. Webber is composed the music of such classic shows as Evita, Cats, The Phantom of the Opera, Sunset Boulevard, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Woman in White, and Love Never Dies. Beyond that, School of Rock – the Musical has lyrics by Glenn Slater (Leap of Faith, Sister Act, The Little Mermaid), and a book by Julian Fellowes (creator of the television show Downton Abbey, book writer for Mary Poppins).
Andrew Lloyd Webber was not only born and lives in London, but also founded a theatre production company based there called the Really Useful Group (RUG). The Really Useful Group has produced such shows in the West End as Cats, Evita, The Wizard of Oz, Stephen Ward, By Jeeves, and many more. In general, this company produces shows first in London, followed by a production on Broadway. However, in the case of School of Rock – the Musical, the decision was made to have the world premiere be on Broadway. This hasn’t happened for an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical since Jesus Christ Superstar, in that case likely due to the vibrant Christian community in America. As for School of Rock, the decision was made in part due to the more relaxed child labor laws in the States, as well as the subject matter which they thought fit Broadway a bit better. This adaptation is based heavily on the film, and yet there are certain changes. Whereas the film was almost entirely from the perspective of the adult teacher Dewey, who lies to take on a substitute teaching position and ends up bringing the kids together into an astounding rock and roll band, the musical delves a bit deeper into the children’s stories as well.
Alex Brightman in the Role of Dewey, Played by Jack Black in the Film
At one point, there were rumors that Jack Black, whose musical chops are demonstrated from the film School of Rock as well as his touring band Tenacious D, would consider reprising his role of Dewey on Broadway. However, that is not the case. Instead, the role is played by Alex Brightman, who has previously been on Broadway in Big Fish, Matilda the Musical, and Wicked. The role of the school principal and his romantic interest, Rosalie, is played by Sierra Boggess, whose credits include It Shoulda Been You and The Little Mermaid. The show is directed by Laurence Connor (Les Misérables), and choreographed by JoAnn M. Hunter (On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, Disaster!). The large ensemble cast also includes a number of Broadway regulars such as Spencer Moses, Mamie Parris, Emily Cramer, and Natalie Charle Ellis.
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