BWW Interview: Madison Micucci Keeps it Real in SCHOOL OF ROCK THE MUSICAL Opening at the Saenger Theatre This Week!
I love movies. I love funny movies. And I especially love quoting funny movies. School of Rock is one of those movies for my family and me. We absolutely love it. I think we may laugh harder the more times we watch it. It just doesn't get old. And now, it's a musical! I mean, does it get better than this?!
If you're unfamiliar, it's a story about a guy named Dewey who is kind of a dud not only finding his passion for teaching kids the fine art of gut busting guitar riffs, but also helping the kids find their own passion for rock music and opening their eyes to the world outside of their uppity private school's walls.
It's really a cute story with a great sense of humor and awesome music starring the most talented group of kids you'll ever lay eyes and ears on. Madison Micucci, most recently seen on Broadway in THE BAND'S VISIT, plays Patty, the slightly uptight girlfriend of Ned who wants nothing more than for Dewey to grow up. Keep reading below as Madison and I chat about her career, the show, and some of the reasons SCHOOL OF ROCK THE MUSICAL is so darned special!
Tell me a little about yourself and what made you want to become a performer.
I think I always was drawn to music and singing. As a kid, my grandmother was super encouraging in terms of taking me and my siblings to see plays and musicals, and playing with us putting on shows at home, and supporting us in the talent show. We had a very colorful and fun childhood, and my grandma was so into playing pretend and telling us we were stars and all of that. I think I got into it because of her, and my parents were very supportive of it, too. I was always interested.
Did you have any formal training in theatre?
Growing up I did the extracurricular stuff. My parents sent me to this great program called Act One, which is an after school program. It was wonderful. And then I auditioned for a bunch of musical theatre programs in college and also a few liberal arts schools, and I went to the University of Michigan. When I got in there, it's a pretty competitive program, so I took that as a sign that I was doing the right thing. That's where I really started to work on it.
I read that you just recently made your Broadway debut. What was that like? Was it like you thought it would be?
I don't think anything's ever what you think it's gonna be. It was wonderful, and it was the perfect show for me to be having my first Broadway experience in. It was so much the type of thing that I really see myself, you know... it was a musical, but it felt more like a play with music. It was just really beautiful, subtle, naturalistic acting, and music that was already an idiom in the world it existed in. It didn't feel like most of the musical theatre soundtracks you hear, and that interested me. It was a great experience. The cast was wonderful. Got to go to the Tony Awards. It was great. It was a wonderful first thing.
Is this the first time you've done a tour? I know that's quite different than being in one theatre for the run of a show.
Yeah, this is my first time. Before THE BAND'S VISIT, I had only done regional jobs so this is my first tour, and I really like it and I felt like after having been in one place doing the same show for a year it came at a great time. It felt like a natural time for a change, and I really wanted to travel and see the country.
What are some of the challenges of touring that you may not necessarily face when you're just in one theatre?
Well, I think just the physical aspect of traveling. Most of the time we're just in one city for a week. We're gonna to go Toronto in the winter, and we'll be there for six weeks, which will be wonderful. But, most of the time, every Monday is a travel day for us, and they can be really long days carrying your bags, going on airplanes. It's kind of a lot to be uprooted every week, and feel like you can never really unpack your suitcase, and to be constantly vigilant about not getting sick. You can't go to your regular doctor, you don't have time to recover before you have to get on another plane so physically it's something to get used to, and I would say that's a challenge. Besides that it can also be wonderful. That is a challenging element, but it's also an exciting one because even if you're in a city you don't like you don't have to be there for long.
What are some of the good parts about touring? Have you gotten to go anywhere you really wanted to see?
So, I joined this tour only about a month ago. We're in Atlanta right now. I've never been there, and so far I'm really enjoying it. I'm super excited about going to New Orleans because I've never been there. I'll spend Halloween there. I got to go to Ottawa for the first time a couple of weeks ago, and it was great. It reminded me kind of... it actually reminded me a lot of Scotland. It was really pretty and really fun. Yeah, it's really cool!
We're really excited to have you all here in New Orleans, especially right around Halloween. The city is so fun; lots of characters are out and about! So with SCHOOL OF ROCK, I know a lot of people have seen the movie and I actually saw the show in New York in January it was great! For those folks who maybe don't know it, can you give me a run down of the story?
Yeah, it's a really fun story! So, this character's kind of a loveable deadbeat that is played by Jack Black in the movie. He's living with his best friend and his best friend's very overbearing girlfriend, Patty, who is the character I play. He is a rock star at heart, but he is so dysfunctional inside. He can't pay his bills; he's a real slob. They threaten to kick him out, and so in order to get the money that he owes he pretends to be his best friend, Ned, and fakes his way into getting a substitute teaching job at a really elite private school for kids. He somehow cons his way in there, and then ends up making some really heartwarming relationships with the children teaching them how to be rock stars and forming a bond with them. The whole premise is Dewey going on this unexpected adventure with these super classically trained, uptight kids that he becomes friends with.
Tell me a little more about your character, Patty. She tends to get a bad reputation for being the stuck up girlfriend, but I think she has a better motive than people give her credit for.
That's the thing is everyone wants to hate Patty because she is the buzz kill in some scenes, but the truth is that she's right. She's the one that is seeing him, seeing Dewey, for what he really is, and calling him out on the fact that he is cheating them on the rent and not being a good friend to Ned. The hard thing is that she's super Type A. She works for the mayor, which she lets everybody know about. She is right, she has a lot of sense, but the way that she goes about expressing herself is so domineering and alpha woman that it becomes easy to vilify her. She seems like the bad guy, but she's really trying to talk some sense into everybody, but we're following a very illogical storyline so her sensibility seems like meanness, but its not really.
I just think about if this was a real life scenario I feel like most of us would be the Patty!
Yeah, totally! She's frustrated that her boyfriend is being taken advantage of, she has to live in an apartment with a total slob, and nobody is listening to her when she says this guy owes the rent and I'm not standing for it anymore. Her boyfriend, Ned, is just such a sweetheart, but he's a pushover sometimes. The relationship is controlled most of the time by Patty, and so she has to be the one to act like the bad guy.
What's it like being on tour with all of these kiddos? I was so impressed with the group that I saw in New York with them playing their own instruments and everything!
They're really wonderful, and the show's really all about them. People get so excited to watch them every night, and they're really good! This is the first group of children I've worked with on the tour, I didn't meet the previous kids, but it seems like a really great group. They're all super smart, they're really curious, they always want to hang out, they're very disciplined. They do school during the day and then they at night they do the show. They're very evolved little humans. It's a pleasure, and they're cute.
As far as the music in the show, I think people will be surprised to find that it's Andrew Lloyd Webber's music because it's different than what we would normally expect from him. Can you tell me about the music and what we can expect to hear?
Yeah, it's very... it does have a very musical theatre influence to it, obviously, but you'll hear everything from the classic rock power chords and that rock and roll scream. The little boy who plays Zack, Mystic Inscho, he'll shred on his rock and roll guitar solos. It feels like Andrew Lloyd Webber's version of classic rock and roll, but a version that can say without getting in trouble. It's Andrew Lloyd Webber's playful nod to classic rock... familiar riffs, the classic 80s power chords and kids playing mean guitar solos. But he does it all with a wink to musical theatre.
What are some of your favorite moments in the show?
That's a tough one! I really love seeing the relationship that the Dewey characters -because there's three people, there's Merritt David Janes who's Dewey most of the time, but I've also see his covers go on who are wonderful, too - and it's just the relationship between him and the kids is so sweet and it's such a feel good thing. I love their scenes and I love the end when the kids are in the battle of the bands and it feels like the kids who are acting in the show get to be rock stars in that moment. The whole theatre becomes a rock concert, and you can feel them loving the applause and getting really excited that the audience is clapping for them and supporting them. It feels good to watch that and be part of that.
To wrap us up, if you could kind of give me the elevator pitch... why should folks come see SCHOOL OF ROCK?
I think there's something in the show for everybody. The kids are super impressive. It's just a feel good show. It's funny. There's humor that the kids will get, there's winks at the parents and things that they will find funny. And, it's kind of like something that you really wish would happen in real life. I think it's just really heartwarming, and it's a really nice escape, and the characters feel like people you might know, but the situation is so absurd that it really takes you out of your reality for a little bit.
SCHOOL OF ROCK THE MUSICAL opens at the Saenger Theatre this Tuesday, October 28. Come watch Madison and the rest of the cast rock their faces off in this fun, heartwarming musical. And bring the kids! Visit www.saengernola.com for tickets and more information. I'll see you there!