Pictured: Ensemble of School of Rock Tour. Photo by Evan Zimmerman for Murphy Made Photography.
By Marissa Carter
SCHOOL OF ROCK is a musical adaptation of the film with the same name, featuring most of the same characters and plenty of new music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyricist Glenn Slater.
The story centers around Dewey (Merritt David Janes), a failed rock musician who is living with his long-time friend Ned (Layne Roate) and his girlfriend Patty (Madison Micucci). After being kicked out of his band, Dewey uses Ned’s credentials to steal a teaching position at an elite private school. Once there, he discovers that the kids in his class are musically talented and decides to secretly turn them into a rock band while hiding his intentions from Rosalie (Lexie Dorsett Sharp), the principal of the school.
With a story that starts this way, it is no surprise that the first half of the show contains scene after scene of selfish adults making bad decisions and imposing their will to live their dreams through the kids. It comes as a relief, in spite of being an abrupt shift, when the kids start asserting themselves and Dewey begins treating them as real people instead of just pawns. Predictably, by the end of the show everyone has learned something, all is forgiven, and everyone goes home happy.
Despite its faulty premise and weak storyline, the production itself is excellent. Janes, Roate, Micucci, and Sharp carry most of the story flawlessly while displaying a wide range of vocal talent and perfectly executed character arcs. Sharp especially deserves mention for her frequent vocal acrobatics and great comedic timing.
Visually, the production is awesome. Scenic and Costume Designer Anna Louizos has outdone herself creating a stage that moves fluidly from home to classroom, to bar, and back again. Most impressively, the school features several walls that rotate and move frequently to create hallways, classrooms, a lounge and a lobby without interrupting a second of the dialogue or taking attention from the actors on stage. The colors and costumes are equally pleasing, and work well to show a clear difference from scene to scene.
The best thing about the production, however, is the kids. They display an incredible amount of talent and energy throughout, and somehow continuously get better as the show goes on. Their performances alone are good enough to redeem the feeble storyline and make this a show everyone needs to see.
SCHOOL OF ROCK THE MUSICAL is part of the KC Broadway Series and is showing at The Music Hall through November 18, 2018. For tickets and information visit americantheatreguild.com.