Wednesday, April 20, 2016

School of Rock - The Musical ***

It may be simplistic, manipulative and slick, but this musical version of the popular 2003 film is a fast-paced family-friendly entertainment that is hard to resist. Its creative team includes a pair of big names: the music is by Andrew Lloyd Webber and the book is by Julian Fellowes (who, in addition to Downton Abbey, wrote the book for Mary Poppins). Glenn Slater (The Little Mermaid) wrote the lyrics. Alex Brightman is a veritable powerhouse as Dewey Finn, the ersatz substitute teacher who turns his class at the preppy Horace Green School into a rock band. Sierra Boggess is delightful as the principal who, unexpectedly,  breaks into excerpts from Mozart’s aria for the Queen of the Night. Best of all are the appealing child actors who have prodigious musical talents. Anna Louizos’s attractive set design changes locations smoothly and her costumes are appropriate. The choreography by JoAnn M. Hunter is lively and the direction by Laurence Connor is seamless and assured. The show is far from subtle, but resistance is futile. The audience, which included many families as well as foreign tourists, loved it. Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes including intermission.

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