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‘School of Rock’ Musical Passes Critics’ Test with (Mostly) Flying Colors

'School of Rock' Musical Passes Critics' Test with (Mostly) Flying Colors

More than a decade after the release of “School of Rock”—the rousing, completely delightful 2003 comedy from screenwriter Mike White, director Richard Linklater, and star Jack Black—wannabe rock god Dewey Finn (Alex Brightman) and his badass students are back.   

“Evita” and “Phantom of the Opera” composer Andrew Lloyd Webber has added 14 new songs for the stage adaptation (in addition to all of the original songs from the film), with lyrics by Glenn Slater (“Sister Act: The Musical”) and a book by Julian Fellowes (“Downton Abbey”). And while their version hasn’t received the near-universal praise of the film, they know well enough that everyone‘s a sucker for kids melting faces and breaking hearts with their instruments. 

Read the reviews of the Broadway production below. 

Ben Brantley, New York Times:
“Andrew Lloyd Webber has entered his second childhood, and it
turns out to be a good career move… Youth, it would seem, is rejuvenating. Adapted
from the popular 2003 Richard Linklater movie, ‘School of Rock’ is unlikely to
restore Mr. Lloyd Webber to the throne from which he ruled Broadway four
decades ago, when he led the conquering forces of the British poperetta with
works like ‘Evita’ and the unkillable ‘Phantom of the Opera.’ But this show,
starring a bouncing Super Ball of energy named Alex Brightman, is his friskiest
in decades.”

Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times:

“The kids are all right. Actually, they’re better than all
right. They’re downright charming — a breath of fresh air in a musical that too
often settles for stale competence… Between the cacophonous score and
over-obvious book, I was ready to pronounce ‘School of Rock’ a
miserable failure before the first act was even halfway through, but something
happens once Dewey decides to turn his classroom into an incubator for the next
Mick Jagger and Janis Joplin. The connection between Brightman and the young
cast begins to glisten, and I found myself smiling delightedly during the
jaunty ‘You’re in the Band’ number, in which Dewey infuses his
10-year-old students with the belief that they can strut and growl and vent
their spleens to electric guitar accompaniment.”

Marilyn Stasio, Variety:
“Andrew Lloyd Webber unleashed his inner child to write the period rock
for ‘School of Rock,’ an exuberant feel-good musical based on the beloved 2003
movie starring Jack Black as a wannabe rock musician who puts together a
kick-ass band composed of school children. While paying his respects to that
manic role model, Alex Brightman maintains his own appealing brand of scruffy
charm as Dewey Finn, amiably ceding the spotlight to a cast of super-talented
kids who rock out on the kind of songs you always wished had been in the movie.”

David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter:
“Led by the hilarious Alex Brightman in a star-making performance that
genuflects to Jack Black in the movie while putting his own anarchic stamp on
the role of Dewey Finn, the show knows full well that its prime asset is the
cast of ridiculously talented kids, ranging in age from nine to 13. They supply
a joyous blast of defiant analog vitality in a manufactured digital world.”  


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