I love the movie School of Rock, but have never gotten around to showing it to my kids. When I saw this on the schedule for Portland’s current Broadway Across America schedule, I figured it was a bit over the kiddos’ heads and figured it would be a good date night for me and the husband. Then, of course, Chicken saw the ads and decided she had to see it. When I asked her why she was so interested, she said “Mom. It’s kids in a band. Come on! That’s awesome!”
So, being that the Easter Bunny who visits our family happens to be very supportive of the arts, tickets magically showed up in her Easter basket to a resounding “yes!!!” when the envelope was opened.
This weekend the day finally arrived. I remained skeptical of our Easter Bunny’s judgement, but off we went. To be quite honest, my expectations were pretty low. It’s a fun movie, but could it really be translated to quality theater? I doubted it.
But it was so fun! The story line was extremely close to the movie, and even though it’s been a while since I’ve watched the movie, some of the lines seemed very, very familiar. If you haven’t seen the movie, a wanna-be rock star, Dewey Finn, pretends to be a teacher and takes over a class at an elite prep school. Once he figures out the kids have musical talent, he scraps all academics and begins preparing them for a Battle of the Bands competition. Over the course of the show, they all help each other grow and the kids feel more understood by their parents. Awwwww. The songs from the movie are in the play, as well as some additional songs. I often don’t love songs that get added for the plays, but in this case I enjoyed them all.
The kids in the play were INCREDIBLY talented. Like, above and beyond talented. The kids were great singers and amazing musicians. And the girl the played Tomika- holy cow! That girl is going places! The adult playing Dewey had played the role on the West End, and he was fantastic. He did a good job keeping the character very consistent with the movie without it feeling like a copy of Jack Black.
The set was very dynamic with very frequent changes, moving us from the school, to an apartment, to a bar, to a music competition. It’s all done quickly and seamlessly. The transition from play to “concert” is fun, too. The music and cast were so fantastic, it often did feel like a real concert. You could feel the energy in the audience as they cheered a clapped along.
There is some swearing in the show, and there is rudeness from both adults and kids. Nothing that I would say is worse than what is in the movie.
Overall the show was a hit with all of us. Chicken walked out saying “I love that play! I want to see it again.” She’s been singing the songs and asking to watch the movie.
Clearly our Easter Bunny is a genius. Can’t wait to see what she brings next year!
What it’s not: completely clean language (there’s a handful of profane words sprinkled throughout), perfect adult role models,
What it is: an incredibly talented cast, high energy, great music, fun, probably best for at least upper elementary school students and older, fast paced, loud, full of laugh-out-loud moments
The Portland showing wraps up at the Keller this weekend. If you can fit it in to your holiday weekend, you can grab tickets here: https://portland.broadway.com/