The Tennessee Performing Arts Center opened its 2018-2019 musical theater season with a performance of the hit musical School of Rock on Sept. 11. Based on the 2003 movie of the same name, this show tells the story of a rock-and-roll guitarist turned substitute teacher who finds he has more to learn from teaching kids music than he expected. The original Broadway show was nominated for 4 Tony Awards upon its opening, including Best Original Score and Best Musical.
The national tour cast certainly lived up to School of Rock’s positive reputation. From energetic dance numbers to flawless scene changes, the audience’s attention never wavered for a moment. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s original music, while unusually rock-heavy for his style, was accentuated perfectly by the cast’s vocals. Rob Coletti’s animated stage presence, mixed with just the right amount of vocal grit, made for an impeccable portrayal of the main character, Dewey Finn. He was accompanied by a cast full of realistic and dynamic characters, making the show’s message heard loud and clear.
The real stars of the show, however, were the kids. Aside from impeccable singing, dancing and character development, the students in the school’s rock band played their instruments live on the stage, not faltering on a single note. The amount of raw talent on the stage for such a young group was extraordinary.
“My favorite thing about the story of School of Rock is that all the kids change because of the teacher, Dewey” said Sami Bray, who played a spot-on portrait of the class’s strong female lead, Summer Hathaway. “…he showed them that kindness is a thing, love is a thing, there is more to you than just following the rules. It’s important to have a heart and put who you are in what you do.”
Bray, along with the rest of the cast, was greeted with a much-deserved standing ovation.
School of Rock will end its Nashville residence on Sunday night. Tickets can be purchased at tpac.org. Use the code DORES for an additional 15% off.*
*excluding Saturday night
Photos provided by TPAC