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Review: TPAC’s 'School of Rock' takes music education to new heights

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Young teenagers filled with limited expectations become limitless with possibilities, as their incredible musical abilities explode on stage at TPAC. in the new production based on the 2003 hit film, “School of Rock” starring Jack Black, and now played on stage by Broadway’s Rob Coletti. Coletti plays a funny, nutty, weird, and slightly insane inspiring substitute teacher, named Dewey Finn. 

The amazing cast of over 20 adults and 12 young teens fill the stage with a rockingly enjoyable music from the pen of Andrew Lloyd Webber. With eight performances a week, there are actually 16 young teens in the cast, but with four acting as swing players, leaving 12 teens on stage. These teen swing performers allow the teens to do a few less performances a week, since they not only all play their own instruments, but they energetically fill the stage with almost acrobatic dance numbers.

Dewey Finn is an out of work musician who dreams of becoming a rock star. He lives with his best friend Ned, (Layne Roate), and his girlfriend, Patty (Emily Borromeo). He is of course out of funds, and behind in his rent, and facing the harsh demands of Patty for the rent or else.

A phone call that comes in for Ned to substitute teach at a renowned private school is intercepted by Dewey, who decides to secretly go in Ned’s place for the money. At the school, however, Dewey sees in the very stifled but extremely musically talented kids in his class a chance to enter his dream contest, the Battle of the Bands, using the kids as his new band.

It’s a fun story with some crazy twists, and the kids are truly all amazing, playing their keyboard, drums, guitars, dancing, and singing. The young students have a sweet but very delightful ballad, the only slow piece in the show, “If Only You Would Listen” that quite movingly shows their love for their crazy rule-breaking teacher. Rob Colletti is a perfect recreation of Jack Black’s Dewey. Rob is very talented in his own right, pulling out all the stops as he pulls the kids together. Dewey is also played three times during the week by Merritt David Janes, (who was part of the “Rock” Broadway cast).

The principal, (Lexie Dorsett Sharp) who has a remarkable vocal range, as in “Here at Horace Green,” adds to the fun as she tries to understand Dewey’s teaching methods.

If you loved the movie, you will find the love musical, while also true to the story and the characters, much more musically exciting. During the dramatic band contest, the audience even becomes the audience of the rock contest, complete with bright strobing lights.

“School of Rock”, plays until Sept. 16. For information, call 615-782-4040, or go to TPAC.org/SchoolofRock.

See a teaser video of the show by clicking here.

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