School of Rock

In the Battle of the Bands, School of Rock is a Winner

If you were a fan of the 2003 movie, School of Rock, you will love this musical adaptation.  Now on stage at the Ed Mirvish Theatre in Toronto, it has stayed true to the performance that made Jack Black a favourite.  Yes, there are a few changes where the movie plot wouldn’t work on stage, but these are actually improvements.

Dewey is a wanna-be rock star who gets kicked out of his band.  He’s broke, and his roommate’s girlfriend wants him out of the apartment.  So, when a call comes for his roommate, Ned, to take a temporary teaching job, Dewey passes himself off as Ned and takes the job in an uppity private school, teaching 11 year old kids.  Unfortunately, Dewey (now known as Mr. Schneebly) has no teaching skills and he’s only interested in rock ‘n’ roll.  The solution is simple:  he puts the class together as a rock band so that they can compete in the Battle of the Bands. 

It’s an endearing plot where kids who have been under pressure to overachieve, find something at which they can excel, and eventually get their parents’ attention.  Fortunately, the cast of this touring production is equal to the movie, if not better.  The children’s acting and singing ability is outstanding, not to mention the four young actors who actually play instruments on stage.  Theo Mitchell Penner on keyboard, Cameron Trueblood on drums, Leanne Parks on bass guitar, and Mystic Inscho on guitar are all very impressive and a delight to watch.   And yes, they are really playing all those instruments.  Just before the show is to begin, we  hear the voice of Andrew Lloyd Webber telling us that the question he is asked most often about School of Rock is “Do the children actually play those instruments?” and the answer is an emphatic “Yes, they do.”

Merrit David Janes is perfect as Dewey; in fact, he even sounds like Jack Black, and has the same physical comedy on stage.  Lexie Dorsett Sharp is excellent as Principal Rosalie Mullins, changing from the confident school principal to the unsure woman on a date at the pub.  Her rendition of “Where Did the Rock Go?” is very well done.

School of Rock is an excellent family outing.  It’s a show all generations can enjoy, and it could spark later conversations between parents and kids.

Even though they don’t win Battle of the Bands, this remains a  feel-good show.  Maybe you don’t have to win to be a winner! 

School of Rock continues with eight shows a week at Ed Mirvish Theatre, Toronto.  Call Ticket King 416-872-1212 or 1-800-461-3333 or visit www.mirvish.com for tickets.

Photo: Cast of School of Rock.

School of Rock
Book by Julian Fellowes
Lyrics by Glenn Slater
New Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Based on the Paramount movie written by Mike White
Directed by Laurence Connor
Choreographed by JoAnn M. Hunter
Musical coordinator Talitha Fehr
Performed by Merritt David Janes, Gary Trainor, et al.
Produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber, et al, with David Mirvish
Ed Mirvish Theatre, Toronto
November 28, 2019 to January 6, 2019
Reviewed by Mary Alderson

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