BWW Review: SCHOOL OF ROCK at Segerstrom Center for the Arts

BWW Review: SCHOOL OF ROCK at Segerstrom Center for the Arts

I felt many things watching "School of Rock" on tour at the Segerstrom Center of the Arts. I laughed at the perfectly paced comedic scenes. My heart broke when kid characters expressed their unacknowledged emotions towards their parents through song. Tears rolled down my cheeks at the purity of a child's crystal clear voice. My pulse synced to the rhythm of the flashing lights, and in those scenes, it was hard to resist the urge to jump up from my seat and rock out to the euphoric music.

"School of Rock" accomplished all of that, and so much more. The story, lifted from the 2003 movie, doesn't require a lot of tweaks for this adaptation-it's already well suited for Broadway audiences, with its underdog tropes and crowd-pleasing potential. The translation from screen to stage is almost effortless, with sets that capture the essence of various settings, and numbers that capture the characters' various ways of thinking. The only parts that drag are when the kids are absent-yet, this is not a criticism of the adult cast, but rather a testament to the magnetism of talented youth.

Casting, I imagine, must have been a nightmare. How many rock-and-roll Broadway belters can you find who can embody Jack Black? (On that note, Rob Colletti nails it, navigating the switch between overly enthusiastic and don't-give-a-damn attitudes seamlessly.) And what about the kids? Not only do you need a cast of children and their understudies who can sing and dance, but also play rock and classical instruments live, fearlessly and flawlessly. Add in explosive choreography (which requires a lot of jumping up and down and fist-pumping) and you're stuck with a conundrum: where in the world are you going to find children who can perform every night as if they've eaten too much candy and drank five cans of Monster Energy Drink?

But against all odds, "School of Rock" did it. The musical doesn't just tell a fantastic feel-good story-it acts as a showcase for kids bursting with talent. Your jaw will drop as they channel the greatest legends of rock history, shredding their guitars, banging their drums, and jamming out on the keys. It's easy to walk out of the theater feeling dejected at your relative lack of talent. But more likely, you'll leave with a childlike sense of glee paired with a hardcore determination to chase your dreams and stick it to the man.

"School of Rock" will be playing at Costa Mesa's Segerstrom Center for the Arts from July 24 to August 5, 2018. Check out more tour dates here: https://ustour.schoolofrockthemusical.com/.

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