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BWW Interview: Layne Roate of SCHOOL OF ROCK at Times Union Performing Arts Center

BWW Interview: Layne Roate of SCHOOL OF ROCK at Times Union Performing Arts CenterSchool of Rock is heading to Jacksonville! The musical, featuring music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, will begin on April 16. I had the opportunity to speak with Layne Roate who performs as Ned, the geeky roommate. He is very excited to be in Florida and sharing the musical with audiences in the Sunshine State!

1. First, I have to start by asking if you had seen the 2003 Jack Black School of Rock before joining the national tour?

I distinctly remember going to see the film in theaters as a 13-year-old kid. I was probably the kids' age that we have in the show now when I saw it. I saw it with a mentor I used to have that got me into theatre. At the time I played the drums for my school band. I remember loving Jack Black's performance and wanting to be the drummer kid. Years later I moved to New York. I didn't really know much about the show. I was in New York for probably three months before I got this job. Not much time at all. I moved to New York with my girlfriend who had seen the show previously on Broadway and told me there was a part that would be good for me. She said it was the nerdy roommate. I had not seen the musical until I got the job, but I was very familiar with the movie at the time. When I told my family that I booked the gig they were ecstatic. All the memories came back of family movie nights and watching the movie growing up.

2. How has the national tour been up to this point and what does it mean to you to be able to take this story on the road?

It has been a thrill. It is one of those shows that truly has something for everyone. It is for any age, any audience member, they are going to have a good time and get something different out of the show. Just like with any show, when a joke lands or a big moment happens, and the audience responds really well never stops for us. It is a Broadway show that is telling a really endearing story with a bunch of really talented kids, but it is also fun and like a rock concert. It is hodgepodge of having Andrew Lloyd Webber Music and kids playing rock instruments, and also a great comedy show all in one. It is awesome because at the end of the show it is like a rock concert and all the audiences have responded in that way. As an actor it is great for all audience members to respond to these aspects, it makes us have a better time on stage.

3. Going back to your comment on Andrew Lloyd Webber, what does it mean to you to be in one of his musicals?

It is really surreal. I've done Jesus Christ Superstar before. It was one of the most fulfilling theatrical experiences. Andrew Lloyd Webber has this uncanny ability of making the audience feel something through his music. It is a dream come true to step back and say, "Wait a minute, I get to rock out on stage belting Andrew Lloyd Webber songs." It is any actors' dream.

4. Tell me a little bit about your character Ned and how you may relate to him?

Ned is very similar to the character in the movie. He is the type B personality. His girlfriend is Patty who is very domineering, straight-laced, type A personality. His best friend Dewey, who is obviously kind of sloppy, but still controlling. Ned is used to being walked all over. It is great to see Ned's journey realizing that not all people are rock stars. Ned is longing to let out his inner rock star. In regard to me being like Ned, I'm kind of nerdy and used to be in a band.

5. What would you like to tell the Broadway fans of Jacksonville before you all make your debut on April 16?

Come see us! You will have a great night of theatre. Again, it really is a show for everyone. Even if you're not a theatre fan, it is comedy show and a rock concert. I can't think of anyone walking this show thinking they didn't enjoy it. There is something for everyone. If you like Andrew Lloyd Webber, if you like rock music, if you like comedies, it'll be perfect. And if you like all three of those things than it will be even more perfect!

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From This Author Jordan Higginbotham