BWW Review: SCHOOL OF ROCK is Rocking the Eccles Theater
The national tour of SCHOOL OF ROCK, featuring a remarkable cast of child rock stars, is funny, hopeful, and a head-banging good time.
SCHOOL OF ROCK (book by Julian Fellowes, music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, lyrics by Glenn Slater) is based on the 2003 film starring Jack Black and comes from the unlikely team of the creators of DOWNTON ABBEY, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, and THE LITTLE MERMAID. When slacker Dewey Finn is kicked out of the rock band he founded, he is left without a group to take to the local Battle of the Bands competition. When he realizes that the classroom of preparatory school students he is substitute teaching is full of talented musicians, he hatches a plan to form them into a new band.
The uncontested stars of the show are the endlessly impressive kids who play their own instruments like pros, sing with verve, and act with real pathos. These include Sami Bray as manager Summer, Mystic Inscho as guitarist Zack, Julian Brescha as keyboardist Lawrence, Camille de la Cruz as singer Tomika, Sammy Dell as stylist Billy, Cameron Trueblood as drummer Freddy, Leanne Parks as bassist Katie, and more.
Merritt David Janes has energy to spare in the extremely taxing role of Dewey (played by Gary Trainor at certain performances). With excellent comic timing and the voice and soul of a true rocker, he does not disappoint as the central character.
Although scaled down from its Broadway counterpart, the set by Anna Louizos is still one of the best parts of the show. Each space feels contemporary and lived in with incredible details, from the pristine school halls to the versatile worn brick walls. Her costumes are also just the right fit for the characters and story. When these elements are combined with Natasha Katz's eye-popping lighting, the overall vibe of the show is an exhilarating rock concert you can't see anywhere else.
SCHOOL OF ROCK plays the Eccles Theater for a limited engagement through Sunday, June 2, 2019. For tickets, call ArtTix at 801-355-ARTS (2787) or visit www.artsaltlake.org.