by Lynn on December 6, 2018

in The Passionate Playgoer

At the Ed Mirvish Theatre, Toronto, Ont.

Book by Julian Fellowes

Based on the Paramount Movie written by Mike White

Lyrics by Glenn Slater

New music by Andrew Lloyd Webber

Directed by Laurence Connor

Choreographed by JoAnn M. Hunter

Set and costumes by Anna Louizos

Lighting by Natasha Katz

Sound by Nick Potter

Cast: Merritt David Janes

Madison Micucci

Layne Roate

Lexie Dorsett Sharp

Wild, rocking; a shiftless musician becomes responsible when he teaches uptight privileged kids who loosen up and find their inner rock star.

The Story. Dewey is a loser. He’s thrown out of his rock band for various reasons. He’s crashing on the couch of his friend Ned and Ned’s wife Patty. Patty is miffed that Dewey doesn’t pay rent, sleeps all day and doesn’t help out. Patty leans on mild Ned to tell Dewey to leave.

One day Dewey answers the phone at Ned’s house and learns that there is a substitute teaching job opening for Ned and Dewey pretends to be Ned to take the much needed job. Dewey shows up at this private school looking like his usual dishevelled self. And he’s an hour late for the class. He is to teach regular subjects but Dewey wants to teach them rock and roll. These kids don’t know ‘from rock and roll’ and Dewey takes it upon himself to teach them.

It turns out that Dewey unleashes the inner rock star of each of these repressed, prim and proper kids. He whips them into a frenzied kind of shape to form a band and the rest is a lot of loud riffing.

 The Production. Imagine it, a musical produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber, with new music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and it’s fun, raucous and enjoyable. No lush orchestrations, even though the Lord Lloyd Webber did the orchestrations.

Julian Fellowes has left any hint of his writing of Downton Abbey outside and packed his book with irreverence and dialogue that zips along.  Fellowes captures the irreverence of Dewey and the upper-class snootiness of the kids before they see the light of rock and roll.

Laurence Connor directs making sure the pace is at break-neck speed and that Merritt David Janes as Dewey is always moving and breathless. Janes is a dynamo of the guitar. He sings with heart and rasp and with such energy I could not understand a lot of what he is singing. The others in the cast are clear. It’s rock music. Am I really supposed to understand the lyrics? Well, it would be helpful.

Lexie Dorsett Sharp as Rosalie, the up-tight principal of the private school, is compelling in her cool composure. You know that sparks will fly between Dewey and Rosalie. Ned is a wonderful wimp as played by Layne Roate and Patty is assertive and commanding because Madison Micucci plays her with such sass.

The young kids, all who seem to be eleven with the musical chops of people in their thirties, play their instruments live with heart and fierceness.

Comment. This is a musical that when you least expect it leaves you tapping your toe, bopping to the music, smiling unabashedly and thinking that owning the CD of School of Rock would be a good thing.

Presented by Mirvish Productions.

Opened: Nov. 28, 2018.

Closes: Jan. 6, 2019.

Running time: 2 hours, 35 minutes.

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