BWW Review: Kids Bring the Rock in SCHOOL OF ROCK at Mirvish
Before the show even begins, the voice of Andrew Lloyd Webber informs us all that the kids in SCHOOL OF ROCK play their instruments live. This becomes overwhelmingly impressive as the show progresses. SCHOOL OF ROCK: THE MUSICAL, with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, lyrics by Glenn Slater, and a book by Julian Fellows, is an adaption of the successful Paramount movie starring Jack Black. In this musical interpretation, the kids take centre stage as the stars of the show.
Dewey Finn (Merritt David Janes) dreams of being a Rock and Roll superstar, but when his band "No Vacancy" kicks him out before the Battle of the Bands, Dewey scrambles to keep his dream alive. Unemployed and unable to pay rent to his roommate Ned (Layne Roate), Ned's girlfriend Patty (Madison Micucci) threatens eviction. Things start to look up for Dewey when he receives a call from the prestigious Horace Green school, asking if Ned would cover as a substitute teacher. Impersonating his friend, Dewey accepts the offer. What starts out as a way to earn his rent money, turns into a way back to the stage as he discovers the incredible talents of his new students.
When Dewey walks past his students in music class with their principal, Rosalie Mullins (Lexie Dorsett Sharp), he is mesmerized by their musical abilities and immediately shifts gears to teach his kids everything he can about Rock and Roll.
Each child discovers an affinity with an instrument. Leanna Parks rocks the pout as Katie on the bass, Theo Mitchell-Penner plays the awkward, yet charming Lawrence on the keys, Mystic Inscho brings Zach to life on the guitar, and Cameron Trueblood plays the wickedly talented Freddy on the drums. Sami Bray portrays Summer, the eager A-type who is assigned to be the manager of the band and Grier Burke plays Tomika, the new student at Horace Green who spends most of the show shy and silent before bursting out a powerful rendition of "Amazing Grace."
Dorsett Sharp as Principal Mullins has a similar moment in the show-stopping "Where Did the Rock Go?" showcasing a tremendous belt that compliments her fine soprano. This number represents the most memorable of the new music composed by Lloyd Webber for the musical. As Dewey, David Janes has the high notes for the rock screams needed in Dewey's music, but I found it hard to understand what he was saying most of the time.
The kids are the ones who steal the show in this production. Watching them play, sing, and dance on the stage is an inspiration - and might just convince some young audience members to pursue artistic dreams of their own.
SCHOOL OF ROCK runs through January 6, 2019 at the Ed Mirvish Theatre.
For more information and to buy tickets, visit mirvish.com/shows/school-of-rock
Main photo credit: Cast of SCHOOL OF ROCK. Photo by Evan Zimmerman-MurphyMade