There is a small group of actors whom I absolutely cannot stand, and Jack Black is at the very top of that list. Because of this, I never saw the movie School of Rock, but when your mom is as difficult to shop for as mine is and she tells you she wants to see the new School of Rock on Broadway for Christmas, you buy tickets. (Luckily, Jack Black isn’t in the Broadway production.)
The story of School of Rock is as follows: Dewey Finn is a deadbeat ex-rocker still trying to live the dream and mooching off his best friend Ned Schneebly and Ned’s girlfriend (or wife, unclear). One day Dewey intercepts a call offering Ned a substitute teaching job at a prestigious private school, so he pretends to be Ned and accepts it on his behalf, hoping to make a few bucks. Dewey soon learns the class he is “subbing” for is quite musically talented and could help him get back onto the rock scene, specifically to win the upcoming Battle of the Bands, and so begins his very humorous musical education of several elementary school children. (I wish they’d included a few real rock-and-roll songs during these scenes, even if they had to Broadway-ize them a little.)
There are a few side stories, such as Dewey trying to date the principal/get her to loosen up, and his imperfect relationship with Ned, but the kids are obviously the main draw of the story and the show. All the kids actually play their instruments live for each show (according to a pre-recorded voice-over by Andrew Lloyd Webber himself, played right before the first act) and they are all incredible singers, the breakout star definitely being Brandon Niederauer, who plays Zack, a mini-Jimi Hendrix trying to get his always-busy dad to notice him.
Overall this is an extremely enjoyable Broadway production, fun for the whole family. The best original song in the show — and in any show I’ve seen in the last few years — is “Stick It to the Man”. Give it a listen!