B’way’s ‘School of Rock’ Earns High Marks

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Andrew Lloyd Webber’s School of Rock – The Musical opened to strong reviews when it  hit Broadway on Sunday night. While The New York Times was restrained in its praise, other critics were effusive. Entertainment Weekly wrote: “An inspiring jolt of energy, joy and mad skillz.” Time Out New York noted: “Wow, does School of Rock work on Broadway! School’s in… forever!”

The musical is Lloyd Webber’s adaptation of the popular 2003 Richard Linklater film of the same name, following the heartwarming tale of a wannabe rock star (famously played by Jack Black) who creates his own creative rock band curriculum at a prestigious prep school. The Broadway critics had particular praise for Alex Brightman’s portrayal of lovable slob, Dewey Finn, and the guitar-slinging and impressive vocal chops of the mostly kid cast.

“The musical is funny and endearing for much the same reasons as the movie,” wrote The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s funny, but you don’t realize just how badly you needed to see a 12-year-old boy powering through a face-melting guitar solo, or his pint-size female counterpart on bass, pouting like the coolest of rocker chicks, until you witness them onstage in the disarming musical adaptation of School of Rock.

Turns out the Cats and Phantom of the Opera composer is quite the rocker at heart. “I always remember [The Who’s] Pete Townshend saying to me that the guitar playing in Phantom of the Opera is as rock as anything he’d ever heard,” Lloyd Webber told EW.

The Broadway reception has been so strong that Lloyd Webber has just announced a London production for fall 2016 and a U.S. touring production in 2017.

“The musical sticks fairly close to Mike White’s screenplay, retaining some of its zingier dialogue, while updating it with references to smartphones and Taylor Swift,” wrote Ben Brantley in The New York Times. “Me, I melted when two little girls started singing the backup chorus from Lou Reed’s ‘Walk On the Wild Side,’ (one of many genial nods to classics).”

The stage musical features songs from the film written by Mike White, as well as 12 original songs written by Lloyd Webber and lyricist Glenn Slater, with a book by Julian Fellowes (Downton Abbey), and directed by Laurence Connor (Les Misérables).

Tickets for School of Rock  at Broadway’s Winter Garden Theatre are available here. The original cast album is already available from Warner Bros. Records.

Best Classic Bands Staff

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