Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

October 26, 2017

School of Rock, the Musical

The Bushnell, Hartford, CT
through October 29, 2017
by Rebecca Phelps

“School of Rock” is a staged adaptation of the ever popular 2003 movie of the same title starring Jack Black. Surprisingly, the book to the show is written by Julian Fellowes of “Downton Abby” fame, and music by non-other than Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, who returns to his earlier, rock roots (think “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”). The show closely follows the same story line as the movie, but the music is almost entirely new.

The production relies heavily on the skills of Rob Colletti who supplies the humor and super-charged, rebellious, yet loveable energy that propels the show. It is hard not to compare Colletti’s depiction of Dewey Finn, the hapless rock ’n roll wannabe, to the iconic Jack Black. Colletti earns his keep in this performance giving 110%.  It is hard to miss the charismatic performance of Lexie Dorsett Sharp as Rosalie, the up-tight principal of Horace Green Prep School, with her beautiful and strong vocal skills (excerpts from Mozart’s “Queen of the Night” aria) and just the right combination of humor and style to draw you in.

But the real stars of the show are the kids who form the rock band under Mr. Schneebly’s (aka Dewey’s) tutelage. They play their own instruments, sing their hearts out, and dance up a storm. Special kudos to Gianna Harris in the role of Tamika, the shy girl, and her amazingly soulful rendition of “Amazing Grace,” and Phoenix Schuman in the role of Zach – the meanest elementary-school aged guitar player ever!

It is always a challenge to keep a hard-driving, rock style pit band quiet enough to still hear the lines, especially when they are being delivered by children. Unfortunately, this show suffered from this problem and some of the dialogue was  lost. In spite of this, the heavy rain and near hurricane force winds, the Bushnell Theatre was packed with an enthusiastic audience for opening night. This is a fun-filled, high energy show, perfect for those who are nostalgic for the great rock sounds of the 70’s. With quotes and nods throughout the show to the greats: Jimmy Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Whitney Houston, Stevie Nix, Led Zepplin, and more. Bring your kids and the grandparents as well, and rock on!