Saturday, November 4, 2017

REVIEW: School of Rock at Cadillac Palace Nov 1-Nov 19, 2017

 We saw the Broadway in Chicago touring version of School of Rock the other night, and it was really fun and an enjoyable evening at the theatre.  

The performers are great, the kid musicians are ASTONISHING, and the adult actors are pretty darned funny.  There are two great anthem songs, and the audience all seemed to lap it up.  I give it high marks, except for the plot, which was adequate at best.

For those of you who somehow missed the movie featuring Jack Black, here's the press release synopsis:

SCHOOL OF ROCK – THE MUSICAL is a hilarious new musical that follows Dewey Finn, a failed, wannabe rock star who decides to earn a few extra bucks by posing as a substitute teacher at a prestigious prep school. There he turns a class of straight-A students into a guitar-shredding, bass-slapping, mind-blowing rock band. While teaching these pintsized prodigies what it means to truly rock, Dewey falls for the school’s beautiful, but uptight headmistress, helping her rediscover the wild child within.

What this neglects to tell you is that in order to do this, Dewey pretends to be his roommate/friend Ned, a former rocker turned substitute teacher, and that at the stuffy prep school he weasels his way into,  no one notices for 3 weeks that he's completely unqualified to do his job.  And that Dewey doesn't see anything wrong with this.

In addition the whole point of this is to win "The Battle of the Bands" a movie trope that was abandoned rightfully so from overuse, and has somehow come back from the dead like a zombie plot point.

While I thought the plot had a number of fun conceits, it was just too hard for me to willingly suspend that disbelief.

Rob Colletti and Phoenix Schuman in the School of Rock Tour.
 © Matthew Murphy. Photo provided by show.
Rob Coletti, who plays Dewey as a lovable doofus with a passion for rock, has a funny little squeal that is perhaps overused, but he's so likable that it doesn't matter.  His counterpart Lexie Sharp, who plays headmistress Rosalie, is very sharp in a Marion the Librarian way, but we do get to see her let down her hair a little and you can ALMOST beleive that she finds Dewey interesting.  Their last minute love affair just doesn't seem probable, even though it's required in order to help the kids win the big Battle of the Bands contest.

Fortunately, all of the plot stuff doesn't really matter, because the show moved right along, and the characterizations, although broad, were good enough to keep us watching.  The kids in the show (who are on stage a good portion of the time) were great and seemed like real pros,  and watching the kids play the music (a disembodied voice before the show assures us that the kids play their own instruments) is mindblowing.  They are 13 and 14, some as young as 9, and they really do rock.

Here's a video from of Rob Coletti and the rest of the touring cast in rehearsal.

My son and I rocking out before the show.
The two rock anthems "Stick it the Man" and "You're In the Band"  were perfect and the curtain call was staged as a rock encore, and succeeded beautifully.   Get the soundtrack from Amazon here.

Overall, this is a fun evening at the theatre, as long as you weren't coming here for the plot.  (And it's a Broadway musical, so you are probably not!)  You will have a great time.

The cast of the School of Rock Tour. © Matthew Murphy.  Photo provided by show.

The show runs through November 19, playing shows Tuesday-Sunday with matinee performances on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Check website for times.

Individual tickets for SCHOOL OF ROCK – THE MUSICAL at the Cadillac Palace Theatre range from $27-$98 with a select number of premium seats available. A select number of premium seats are also available for many performances.

Tickets are available at all Broadway In Chicago Box Offices (24 W. Randolph St., 151 W. Randolph St., 18 W. Monroe St. and 175 E. Chestnut), the Broadway In Chicago Ticket Line at (800) 775-2000 and online at

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