“School of Rock” Heading to Broadway

School of Rock, inspired by the 2003 film, in development for Broadway

The film School of Rock was released in 2003 to impressive critical acclaim and stupendous box office success.  Starring Jack Black as Dewey Finn, a struggling rock guitarist who unwittingly becomes an inspiring children’s rock music teacher, School of Rock opened at #1 at the box office, earning $19,622,714 in its first weekend, and it eventually reached a total box office gross of $131,282,949.  Directed by Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused, Before Sunrise trilogy) and produced by Scott Rudin, the film was beloved by a wide demographic audience, earning an impressive 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, as well as a high rating of “universal acclaim” on Metacritic, which amasses the critical response to films.  In addition, the movie spurred a string of small town rock n roll schools to teach music to children that borrowed the name “School of Rock.”

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group Behind the Adaptation

Last year, it was announced that School of Rock has its sights set on the stage.  Even more interestingly, the producing mind behind this adaptation is none other than Andrew Lloyd Webber, the composer of such classic musicals as Jesus Christ Superstar, The Phantom of the Opera, and Cats.  In addition to being a musical creative genius, Webber founded a London-based producing entity in 1977 called the Really Useful Group.  RUG has since expanded to be concerned with not only stage productions, but also film, television, video, and concert productions.  Furthermore, the company owns and operates six theatres in the West End of London: the Adelphi Theatre, the Cambridge Theatre, the New London Theatre, the London Palladium, the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, and Her Majesty’s Theatre, where The Phantom of the Opera has been playing since 1986.jack black school of rock

Issues in Adaptation From Movie To Broadway

Though School of Rock may seem a far cry from The Phantom of the Opera, it is clear that Webber is less concerned with genre than with quality, and both may boast excellence in those terms.  In an interview last year with CBS Radio, Webber made an off-hand comment that he is “very excited” about the development of the stage production of this successful movie.  One question is that of the score: the movie already has a substantial number of songs included, encompassing both a range of classic rock tunes as well as new songs written for the film.  Webber mentioned that there is the possibility of his composing additional songs for the stage musical version, but that an attempt would be made to bridge the already existing score with anything new required for the live medium.

Will Jack Black reprise his role?

Another question is that of casting.  It is possible that Jack Black could reprise his role for the stage, as he has a huge following, both in terms of his screen acting, as well as through his rock music group Tenacious D.  However, he has never played a role on stage, neither on Broadway nor in London, where this musical might premiere.  Though Webber has made no insinuation that Black may be the one to play Dewey Finn onstage, it is very possible that Black could be tempted to make this his stage debut.  As of now, the only solid piece of news is that the Really Useful Group, under the leadership of Andrew Lloyd Webber, has bought the rights to turn this movie into a stage show.  We will hopefully soon be told more information, including cast, creative team, and schedule of when to expect this show to premiere.

A Cast of Thousands in New Production of Cats

CatsA staple of Broadway for many years, the famed Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Cats (based on poet T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats) is soon to have its biggest staging yet. Stagecoach Theatre Arts will be celebrating its 25th anniversary in spectacular fashion by putting on a one-time-only production of Cats on March 24 that will feature 3,000 performers.

To be held in Birmingham, England at the U.K.’s National Indoor Arena, the performance will have a main cast of 500 singers and 50 dancers, and they will be accompanied by 2,500 young performers, ranging from ages 7 to 18.

“I’m absolutely thrilled that so many young people will be able to take part in this very special performance of Cats,” said Andrew Lloyd Webber in a statement. “Happy 25th Birthday Stagecoach and thank you for giving your students the opportunity to perform the show in such a spectacular way.”

Evita To Close on January 26

A few weeks ago the hit Broadway revival of the Andrew Lloyd Webber / Tim Rice musical Evita announced that stars Ricky Martin, Elena Roger, and Michael Cerveris would be departing in January and that a new slate of stars to replace them would soon be announced.  However, it appears that suitable replacements were not found, and the musical is now scheduled to conclude its run on January 26, 2013 when the current leads depart.

One of Evita‘s producers, Hal Luftig, stated, “Our extensive search for a new cast presented the significant challenges of not only replacing a high-caliber trio of stars but also synchronizing the schedules of potential replacements with that of the production.  Despite going down the road with a variety of artists, the planets have simply not aligned for us to engage the right talent at the right time.”

When Evita closes at the Marquis Theatre next month, it will have played 26 preview performances and 337 regular performances.  A national tour of the Tony Award nominated production is expected to launch in September of 2013.

Jesus Christ Superstar Stage Production Coming to Cinemas

A re-invented take on the Andrew Lloyd Webber / Tim Rice classic Jesus Christ Superstar has just had a successful opening at London’s 02 Arena (better known as a concert stage and, more recently, Olympics venue).  And now, theater fans across the Atlantic will get to view this production, dubbed the Jesus Christ Superstar UK Rock Spectacular, from the comfort of their local movie theaters.  Select theaters in the U.S. will show the production on October 29 and then again on November 1.  Visit www.FathomEvents.com to see where it is playing and to purchase tickets.

Jesus Christ Superstar has been on an arena tour throughout the United Kingdom.  The broadcast being shown in movie theaters was recorded at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham, England earlier this month.  Andrew Lloyd Webber was quoted as saying, “I have waited 42 years for ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ to play arenas in the UK, and it is great to finally see the show as it was originally intended, as an arena rock opera.”

The production stars Ben Forster, selected by the British public, in the role of Jesus.  The rest of the cast features a number of personalities known in England, including Tim Minchin (co-author of the forthcoming Broadway musical Matilda) as Judas, DJ Chris Moyles as Herod, and Melanie C of the Spice Girls as Mary Magdalene.