We came, we saw, we rocked! Thanks to The Broadway Collection I was able to see a preview matinee of Broadway’s newest family-friendly show School of Rock the Musical with my 12-year-old son, Aidan. This new musical feels like a rock concert — ie, loud and fun — and if our performance is any indication, it’s sure to be a favorite of anyone who enjoys music served up with a little bit of mayhem in true Rock and Roll style.
Aidan, a fan of the movie of the same name the musical is based on (note there’s no connection to the popular music schools of the same name), was cautiously optimistic heading to the show, thinking the play might pale in comparison to the film. By intermission he was completely sold on the musical, proclaiming: “Every bit of it is amazing!” I agree with him, School of Rock literally rocked from the opening number straight through to the curtain call — it was a blast.
Want to “Stick It To The Man” (which is a good thing, I promise)? Here are 6 rocking reasons to catch the newest play to hit the Great White Way:
1. The Kids Are A-Ma-Zing: Last things first – I didn’t realize until nearly the end of the show that the super talented kids on stage were actually playing their own instruments throughout the performance. Not just playing them – ROCKING out on them. Focus on their playing early so you can appreciate their mastery (especially Brandon Niederauer, who plays Zach, on lead guitar). The stellar singing is another high point – Bobbi Mackenzie who plays Tomika totally floored us. (How good is she? She recently sang for Michele Obama at the White House. So yeah, that good).
2. It’s a Classic Already: If you’ve seen the movie, the basic story line pretty faithfully follows that script – Dewey Finn is a ne’er do well (played in the film by an energetic Jack Black, and in the play by the indefatigable Alex Brightman, who nails Black’s performance and then amps it up to 11), who gets kicked out of his hair band “No Vacancy,” nabs his roommates substitute teacher gig at prestigious Horace Green Preparatory School, and then turns his ultra-conservative no-fun students into free thinking, hard rocking, battle of the band contenders.
3. Andrew Lloyd Webber! The movie was good fun, but the musical has two aces in the hole that truly makes it rock: Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber (Cats! Evita!! Phantom of the Opera!!!) and a book by Julian Fellowes (Downton Abbey!). They really give the play its heart, especially in one of my favorite scenes where the students sing “If Only You Would Listen,” about how difficult it is to express themselves to their demanding parents. I teared up, not gonna lie.
4. The Songs ROCK: The songs you’ll be singing for days, “Stick it to the Man,” and “Teacher’s Pet,” are both showstoppers. You’ll want to download them before you leave for the show so you’ll have them when you get home.
5. It’s a Teen and Tween Magnet: It’s a perfect play for the sometimes difficult to entertain teen and tween audience, including my 12-year-old who loved the staging, music, and score, and was incredibly impressed by the talented cast, especially the School of Rock stage band, who are predominantly 10 to 13 year olds like him and his friends who are also in a band (although not one that plays 8 shows a week).
6. It’s not afraid to ROCK! This is a rock show musical. It’s loud, which we thought was awesome down in the orchestra seats, and it’s definitely a show where you can sit up in the balcony and not miss a note. In fact, at the show we attended, the balcony was filled with teen and tween school groups who clapped and cheered and amped up the experience with their enthusiasm (as opposed to some of the seniors in the premium seats below who kvetched that it was a little loud.)
When the show was over, we were still so full of adrenaline that we weren’t quite ready to leave. So for the first time ever, we waited at the stage door to meet the talented cast who were as gracious as they were musical. Aidan beamed meeting the fabulous tween actors, and they were chatty and friendly to their peers waiting for their autographs. It was the perfect ending to a great show.
If you go:
*School of Rock is at The Winter Garden Theater (where you may have seen Cats or Mamma Mia back in the day). The theater entrance is on Broadway at the corner of 51st street. The stage door is on 7th Avenue between 50th and 51st.
*Tickets can be purchased in-person at the Winter Garden Theatre box office (Broadway between 50th and 51st streets), online at telecharge.com, or by calling 212-239-6200.
*The theater requests no children under 4 and recommends the show for ages 8 and up (there are a few juicy words, i.e. “douche bag,” that might not sit well with early grade schoolers.)
*Be prepared for soda sticker shock: drinks (in souvenir cups) are $10. Bribe your kids (like I did mine) to forgo the shockingly expensive beverages by promising a stop at Ellen’s Stardust Diner directly next door to the theater or Starbucks right across the street on the northeast corner of 51st and Broadway.
*For a fabulous post matinee meal, head west down 51st street to Ippudo (321 W 51st St., between 8th and 9th avenues) for piping hot bowls of ramen. The matinee ends at 4:30 and the restaurant opens at 5, so you can be at the door before the noodle-loving crowds start to build.
Enjoy the show!