Review: School of Rock, starring Conner John Gillooly
It's always interesting to me to see how movies translate to the stage. In some cases, it doesn't work. But in other cases, like School of Rock, it works wonderfully. It follows Dewey Finn, who poses as a substitute teacher at a prestigious private school and forms a band to enter the Battle of the Bands after learning about the musical ability his class of fifth graders has.
Since the original cast has left, there are now two actors who alternate the role of Dewey. I saw Conner John Gillooly, who brings so much energy to the stage and really embodies the character. Alongside Analisa Leming as Rosalie Mullins, the principal of Horace Green School, the group of incredibly talented kids, Jonathan Gould as Ned, and Lori Eve Marinacci as Patty, the entire cast brings high levels of energy to the stage to match the storyline.
The score is not what one would typically associate with Andrew Lloyd Webber, who's known largely for works such as The Phantom of the Opera, Cats, Evita, Jesus Christ Superstar and Sunset Boulevard. The book is written by Julian Fellowes of Downton Abbey fame, with lyrics by Glenn Slater, who wrote the lyrics for Galavant on ABC.
The creative team, and their work behind the scenes is the backbone of the production. One of the reasons it's run for over 900 performances, with various casting replacements is because of the book and the score. But the cast as a whole brings life to the show, over two years after they started previews. And, while the theater was not completely packed the day I was there, the energy the audience brought by the end made it feel like a real concert.