Thursday, October 26, 2017

School of Rock -- The Bushnell

School of Rock Original London Cast. Photo by Tristram Kenton
School of Rock
Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Lyrics by Glenn Slater
Book by Jullian Fellowes, based on the film by Mike White
The Bushnell
Through Oct. 29

By Lauren Yarger
What's It All About?
Dewey (Rob Colletti), a down-on-his-luck rock musician wannabe is facing his swan song when he gets kicked out of his band, loses his job and can't pay the rent to buddy Ned (Matt Bittner) where he has been freeloading. Ned's uptight, bossy significant other Patty (Emily Borromeo) demands that he get out. Dewey intercepts a substitute teaching offer for Ned at Horace Green, an upscale private school willing to pay a lot of bucks. Dewey pretends to be Ned and soon finds that he has a classroom full of privileged kids who play musical instruments. He convinces them to form a band and enter a competition without involving the input of their achievement-oriented parents or rule-following principal Rosalie (Lexie Dorsett Sharp). Romance and chaos ensue.

What Are the Highlights?
A score by Andrew Lloyd Webber (Evita, Cats, Jesus Christ Superstar) and a book by Julian Fellowes ("Downton Abbey") might be enough for a pleasant theater experience all on their own (and they are), but add to them some extraordinarily talented kids who all play their own instruments and you have a winner. Laurence O'Connor directs the fast-paced action on Anna Louizos' practical sets and JoAnn M. Hunter outs through some jumping choreography for the rousing numbers "Stick it to the Man" and "You're in the Band.". Sharp is excellent as the repressed headmistress who suppresses a passion for Stevie Nicks. She also has a great voice and does a nice rendition of "Where Did the Rock go," one of my favorites form this score that doesn't really sound a whole lot like Andrew Lloyd Webber's usual fare.

What Are the Lowlights?

That jumping choreography appears to be a bit beyond the reach of Colletti at times, but he has a great on-stage rapport with the kids.

It's hard to hear dialogue at times, particularly when individuals are speaking over music (Sound Design by Nick Potter).

More Information:
Music Supervision by John Rigby

Additional cast:
Merritt David Janes as Dewey Alternate, Deidre Lang as Ms. Sheinkopf, Olivia Bucknor as Shonelle, Theodora Silverman as Katie, Chloe Anne Garcia as Marcy, Carson Hodges as Mason, Gianna Harris as Tomika, Gilberto Moretti-Hamilton as Freddy, Phoenix Schuman as Zack, John Michael Pitera as Billy, Theo Mitchell-Penner as Lawrence and Ava Briglia as Summer. The adult ensemble features John Campione, Patrick Clanton, Christopher DeAngelis, Kristian Espiritu, Melanie Evans, Liam Fennecken, Kara Haller, Elysia Jordan, Jameson Moss, Sinclair Mitchell, Tim Shea and Hernando Umana. The kid’s ensemble features Rayna Farr, Bella Fraker, Alex Louis, Tommy Ragen, Gabriella Uhl and Aiden Niklas Villa.
School of Rock is in session at the Bushnell, 166 Capitol Ave., Hartford, through Oct. 29. Performances are Thursday at 7:30 pm.; Friday at 8 pm; Saturday at 2 and 8 pm; Sunday at 1 and 6:30pm. Tickets are $22.50-$135.50: bushnell.org; 860-987-5900.

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Lauren Yarger with playwright Alfred Uhry at the Mark Twain House. Photo: Jacques Lamarre)

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