BWW Interview: Minneapolis' Huxley Westemeier Joining Cast of SCHOOL OF ROCK

BWW Interview: Minneapolis' Huxley Westemeier Joining Cast of SCHOOL OF ROCK

SCHOOL OF ROCK is currently playing Minneapolis' Orpheum Theatre and the high-energy show and kids who play the majority of the cast are rocking it out through March 11. (See show info below.) They begin the show with an announcement that, indeed, the kids on stage ARE playing their instruments. And they do it well. The young actor who plays Zach (Phoenix Schuman) brings down the house with his guitar solo. Kids on keyboards, bass guitar and back-up vocals are equally talented. Each kid in the School of Rock band/class has a role to play. Character Billy, played in Minneapolis by John Michael Pitera, is the stylist who takes it upon himself to glam up the school uniforms. After the Minneapolis run, a local 10-year-old actor, Huxley Westemeier, will take on that role and is currently here rehearsing with the cast. Westemeier is already an experienced actor, having played a part in the Guthrie's WATCH ON THE RHINE and the Ordway's JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, among others. He takes on this 6 Questions & a Plug and tells us a bit more about himself. (Unfortunately, you'll have to head out of town to see him in this show, but watch out because he'll likely be on a stage near you soon.)

Huxley, let's start by you telling us about Billy and your part in School of Rock.

Hi! Billy is such a fun part to play! He is the sassy stylist who is chosen to make costumes for the band. He has a tough relationship with his Dad because his Dad wants him to be something he is not.

That might be part of why he's so sassy.

How were you cast in this national tour?

It all started with a musical theater workshop through Broadway Playground with Lindsay Levine (Tara Rubin Casting) in Minneapolis in December. After two separate auditions in New York City I was cast as Billy just over a month later.

What is it like learning the role here in Minneapolis, and where all will you be heading from here?

We actually started rehearsing with the tour in Austin, Texas, three weeks ago and I am so excited to work on the show in Minneapolis! My first performance will be on March 13 in Louisville, Kentucky, right after we leave Minneapolis. It's an amazing opportunity to get to visit and perform in cities across the country!

How did you get started acting? Has this been a dream of yours in your short 10 years, or is it just a fun opportunity?

My very first show was when I had just turned 7 in a community theater production of WILLY WONKA. I was an Oompa Loompa and completely hooked. I've been in 11 shows since then and I can't imagine a life without theater! Being cast in SCHOOL OF ROCK as Billy was a moment I will never forget and being on a Broadway National tour is literally a dream come true!

I read your favorite subjects in school are engineering and English. Is one of your parents an engineer? Do you think you'll go into a more right-brained career like engineering when you grow up?

Neither of my parents are, but my Grandpa and Great Grandpa were both engineers. This is a really good question! At this moment I would like to merge my love of theater and engineering. I have plans to design my own modern theater building that transforms from a thrust to a proscenium stage at the touch of a button. I love automation and architecture, too. I would like to write and direct my own plays as well as offer emerging young artists opportunities to perform and direct their own works.

So, you say you're composing a musical, and your favorite show is HAMILITON. Are you doing a more traditional show or trying to use new music like hip hop as Lin-Manuel Miranda did? How did you decide to work on that project?

When I was working at the Guthrie Theater last fall my sibling in the play, Kate Regan, and I started writing the musical "Lost In Thyme." The goal is to combine classical music and DEAR EVAN HANSEN-style pop to form a musical about young love, cooking and emotional separation due to events that are out of the principal characters control. It's a contemporary style.

That's pretty ambitious! Good luck! You're obviously going out on tour now, but what do you hope you'll do after that? Are there any dream roles you hope to play?

I hope to finish LOST IN THYME and perhaps find a venue to produce it in and work more on piano composition. My dream roles would be anything on Broadway and I really want to sing!

When I'm older I would love to have the opportunity to play Alexander Hamilton or Aaron Burr in the musical HAMILTON, Evan Hansen, Judas or Jesus in JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR and Albus Potter in HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD.


HUXLEY WESTEMEIER (Billy). This Minneapolis native is thrilled to play Billy in the National Tour of School of Rock! Recent credits: The Guthrie Theater's Watch on the Rhine, The Ordway's Jesus Christ Superstar. Special thanks to Tara Rubin Casting, Jeremy, Maggie and Broadway Playground. Love to family, Mom, Dad and Rufus.

More information:

For more information about the production of SCHOOL OF ROCK currently at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis, visit

Photo: Huxley Westemeier, Billy in SCHOOL OF ROCK national tour, courtesy of Hennepin Theatre Trust

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From This Author Kristen Hirsch Montag