On Sunday, my sister, Savvy, and I were given the privilege of attending the opening-night performance of School of Rock – The Musical. An electrifying adaptation of the hit movie with the same title, School of Rock tells the story of a fraudulent substitute teacher named Dewey (the incredibly talented Alex Brightman), who starts a rock band with his students and opens their eyes to new possibilities, giving them the voice and the confidence to "Stick It to the Man!"
Countless talented performances are recognized throughout, many of which are given by Rock Gods under five feet. The students of the Horace Green Preparatory School steal the spotlight with their flawless singing, comedic timing and ability to play their instruments live eight shows a week!
Not only did these extraordinarily talented young performers inspire me, but they also seem to have inspired many other young audience members whom I passed as I left the theatre, saying things to their parents like, "I want to do that one day," "I want to be like Stevie Nicks!," "Mom, can you send me to band camp?"
This is very similar to what happens to the students in the show. Feeling very helpless and ignored, participating in the arts showed them that they are significant, special, heard and, most importantly, made to feel like they could do anything.
My good friend Graham Montgomery, currently killing it as Young Charlie in Kinky Boots down the street from the Winter Garden at the Hirschfeld, agrees that, "It is very inspiring for kids to see the show because kids can see it and say, 'Oh I want to do that. It made me want to create my own band!'"
I had the chance to speak with some of my other friends from School of Rock, and they all relayed to me the same sentiment: This new musical is a substantial show for kids and adults alike.
"School of Rock is so important because it tells such a real story," said Luca Padovan (who is hilarious as Billy, the band's costume designer). "At some point in everyone's lives, they have felt misunderstood and wanted to stand up for themselves. School of Rock portrays this message through music, which makes it extra special."
Hayden Wall (the incredible swing for Billy/Mason/James) tells me, "It inspires kids to follow their dreams no matter where they are, and it inspired me to listen to different types of music."
The rock chicks of SOR also had some things to add. "It teaches kids to stick it to the man and be free," said Corinne Wilson (the show's adorable Sophie). "Always be unique."
"Be you; be creative," said Evie Dolan (who plays the rock goddess bass player Katie).
"And always be yourself," added Taylor Caldwell (the fab Shonelle).
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Kevin Alexander Clark, who played Freddie in the "School of Rock" movie, told me that the story teaches both kids and parents how to rock — it gives them the power to speak their minds and stand up for their beliefs. School of Rock allows kids to not be afraid of being themselves. It also teaches us that playing music is one of the greatest forms of expression.
Seeing these young actors carry this show is incredibly inspirational to me as a performer. The combination of classic rock and metal bridges the gap for both parents and children to enjoy, and it gives children the opportunity to see others just like themselves achieving an incredible feat. (And, maybe kids will see that their parents were a bit fun and cool once, too!)