By: Emma B.

Editor’s note: This is the fifth article in a series about musicals both the popular and the little known shows.

Recently, I was given the opportunity to see the musical School of Rock by Andrew Lloyd Webber, live at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta. This was a rare opportunity, so I jumped at the prospect.
Now, it’s no secret that Andrew Lloyd Webber has written and produced far more popular and more well-known musicals, so why is this one not nearly as well-known as his other works? Is it because of the story or is it simply because it’s newer than his other shows, more famous shows? The following is what I discovered about this fun little musical.

The Plot and Characters
School of Rock follows the character Dewey Finn, an everyday nobody who has been kicked out of the only thing he cares about, his band called “No Vacancy.” Furthermore, his best friend, who he’s been living with, Ned Schneebly has a girlfriend named Patty who says that if Dewey doesn’t start paying the rent he’ll be kicked out of the house too. When Dewey receives a call from the principle of the prestigious Horace Green School that was originally meant for Ned, he immediately pretends to be Ned in order to pay his rent. Things only escalate further when Dewey, who goes by Mr. Schneebly for the rest of the show, realizes his young students are musical prodigies. Dewey becomes determined to shape up his students for a competitive battle of the bands and win back his place in his old band.
The plot of this musical is exceedingly simple and doesn’t have very many layers to it. The main character’s personality and motivations are laid out in the first act and they don’t go through significant change. This makes sense though, as the musical is a comedy at heart. Keeping the plot simple, the musical is able to get the audience emotionally invested quickly, allowing time for the humor to shine. It also helps that many jokes and quips are very funny.
There is a primary romance in the show between Dewey and the principal of Horace Green, Ms. Rosalie Mullins. The two have several romantic scenes together and despite those scenes feeling a tad rushed, they are very good. This musical is very much built-off fast comedy but this is a minor criticism in the grand scheme of the show as a whole.   

The Technical Aspects
The show was a technical marvel. Everything that wasn’t a set, made me feel like I was at a rock concert. The lighting was bright and vibrant which only helped to support the upbeat tone.
The technical marvels especially pay off toward the end, during The Battle of the Bands scene. At this point in the show, all of the tech is at its maximum potential, making everything feel more intense. This only helps to get the audience more excited; something that any good climax should be able to do. I personally enjoyed seeing other audience members starting to head-bang at the end of the show.
I would also be remiss if I didn’t bring up the talent of the child stars. In the show, all the children in Dewey’s band play various instruments. However, what most people don’t realize is that every single child actor actually plays their instruments live. This means that every time a child actor in the show rocks out on the guitar, they’re actually playing the guitar. This aspect of the show is brilliant and goes a long way to making the experience feel real.

The Verdict
School of Rock is the picture-perfect definition of a simple but enjoyable experience. The plot and characters don’t have much depth or complexity but they’re not supposed to. I think the show is simply a warm experience to brighten someone’s day.
So why is this musical not well-known? I think this musical is not well-known purely because it’s newer than Andrew Lloyd Webber’s other works. Which is a shame, because this play simply rocks.
To listen to a song from School of Rock click here.

If you would like to read more about in our Theatre Thoughts series, click the links below.


Part 4: Theatre Thoughts - An Analysis: The Phantom of the Opera: The Perfect Cheese Wheel

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