Review: School of Rock (Broadway in Chicago)

| November 6, 2017

School of Rock cast at Cadillac Palace Theatre, Broadway in Chicago            

School of Rock

Written by Andrew Lloyd Webber (music),
    Julian Fellowes (book), Glenn Slater (lyrics)
Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph (map)
thru Nov 19  |  tix: $27-$105  |  more info
Check for half-price tickets   


This ‘School’ is pure family-friendly fun


School of Rock cast at Cadillac Palace Theatre, Broadway in Chicago

Broadway in Chicago and The Really Useful Group presents
School of Rock – The Musical

Review by Lauren Whalen

Written by Mike White and starring Jack Black, Richard Linklater’s 2003 film “School of Rock” was two hours of pure fun, with just the right amounts of realism and sentimentality. Adapting movies to the stage is always a tricky thing, particularly when children are involved. Thankfully, the stage version of School of Rock, with new music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and a book by Julian Fellowes, retains both the joy and the poignancy of Linklater’s film, and best of all, the child characters aren’t overly precocious or shrill. A perfect introduction to musical theater for older kids, School of Rock is equally hilarious and enjoyable for adults.

School of Rock cast at Cadillac Palace Theatre, Broadway in ChicagoSchool of Rock follows Dewey Finn (Rob Colletti, a 2011 graduate of Columbia College Chicago and Second City), a wannabe rock star who lives in the basement of his nerdy former bandmate Ned (Matt Bittner). After Dewey is kicked out of his own band and Ned’s girlfriend Patty (Emily Borromeo) insists he start paying rent, he ends up impersonating Ned as a long-term substitute teacher at the exclusive Horace Green Academy. Upon discovering his preteen students are gifted at classical music, Dewey forms a new rock band with himself as the front man and precocious young Summer (Ava Briglia) as manager. But as the citywide Battle of the Bands approaches, Dewey faces opposition from uptight principal Rosalie (Lexie Dorsett Sharp), while at the same time trying everything he can to keep his true identity from being revealed.

What’s lovely about School of Rock, both stage and film versions, is that it takes kids seriously without reducing them to screechy, cutesy stereotypes. Overscheduled and under intense pressure, Dewey’s students just want their parents to listen to them – and the rebellious nature of rock and roll is a perfect outlet for their angst. Lloyd Webber’s score is both thoughtful (the kids’ montage “If Only You Would Listen”) and rousing (the Act One finale “Stick It to the Man”) without being overly syrupy, and retains the film’s songs “School of Rock” and “The Legend of the Rent.” Fellowes’ book is witty and sharp, preserving White’s dark humor and adding in more easy banter for Dewey and his protégées. Director Laurence Connor and choreographer JoAnn M. Hunter keep the action moving and the staging energetic, though never so frenetic that it gets overwhelming.

Theodora Silverman and Rob Colletti star as Katie and Dewey in School of RockRob Colletti and Phoenix Schuman star as Dewey and Zack in School of Rock, Broadway Chicago Rob Colletti and Lexie Dorsett Sharp star as Dewey and Rosalie in School of RockPhoenix Schuman and Rob Colletti star as Zack and Dewey in School of RockSchool of Rock the musical at Broadway in Chicago, Cadillac Palace Theatre

School of Rock requires very specific casting for Dewey, who must have the boundless physical comedy of Jack Black, and the kids, many of whom have to be adept at singing and playing rock music. Colletti is relatable and illustrious, displaying flawless comic timing and a natural rapport with his pint-size costars. Both Phoenix Schuman and Gilberto Moretti-Hamilton are wondrous on electric guitar and drums, respectively, and bassist Theodora Silverman has both musical chops and an adorable pout. Gianna Harris shines as Tomika, a quiet outcast who reveals a remarkable singing voice, and Briglia’s Summer perfectly portrays a take-charge Type-A personality. Dorsett Sharp gives buttoned-up administrator (and closet Stevie Nicks fan) Rosalie a strong yet sympathetic air, and positively wails her power-ballad solo “Where Did the Rock Go”.

With a running time of just over 2 hours, School of Rock is just as winning as the original film. Taking an underdog story and blending it with cute kids and a rousing score, the musical makes for a thoroughly entertaining night at the theater. School of Rock is a pleasing earworm of a musical that will surely play in regional and community theaters as soon as the rights are available. Rock on!

Rating: ★★★½

School of Rock the Musical continues through November 19th at Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph (map).  Tickets stars at $27, and are available by phone (800-775-2000) or online through (check for availability of half-price tickets). More information at time: 2 hours 15 minutes, includes an intermission)

School of Rock cast at Broadway in Chicago, Cadillac Palace Theatre

Photos by Matthew Murphy 




Rob Colletti (Dewey), Merritt David Janes (Dewey, at certain performances), Lexie Dorsett Sharp (Rosalie), Matt Bittner (Ned), Emily Borromeo (Patty), Olivia Bucknor (Shonelle), Theodora Silverman (Katie), Tommy Ragen (James), Chloe Anne Garcia (Marcy), Carson Hodges (Mason), Gianna Harris (Tomika), Gilberto Moretti-Hamilton (Freddy), Phoenix Schuman (Zack), John Michael Pitera (Billy), Theo Mitchell-Penner (Lawrence), Ava Briglia (Summer), Gabriella Uhl (Sophie), Tim Shea (Doug, Mr. Spencer), Deidre Lang (Ms. Sheinkopf, Security Guard #1), Sinclair Mitchell (Snake, Mr. Mooneyham), Jameson Moss (Stanley, Mr. Williams), Patrick Clanton (Gabe Brown, Mr. Hamilton, Jeff Sanderson), Liam Fennecken (Bob, Mr. Sandford, Cop), Elysia Jordan (Mrs. Hathaway), Hernando Umana (Theo), Melanie Evans (Security Guard #2)

Ensemble: John Campione, Patrick Clanton, Christopher deAngelis (Dance Captain), Kristian Espiritu, Melanie Evans, Liam Fennecken, Kara Haller (Assistant Dance Captain), Elysia Jordan, Sinclair Mitchell, Jameson Moss, Tim Shea, Hernando Umana

Swings: John Campione, Christopher deAngelis, Rayna Farr, Bella Fraker, Kara Haller, Alex Louis, Aiden Niklas Villa


Martyn Axe (music director, keyboards), Julie Homi (asst. music director, keyboards), Anthony Rubbo, Diego Rojas, Oscar Bautista, Dave Saenger (guitars), Lynn Keller (bass, librarian), Jason Ellis (electric & fretless bass), Taurus Lovely (drums)

behind the scenes

Laurence Connor (director), JoAnn M. Hunter (choreographer), Anna Louizos (scenic and costume design), Natasha Katz (lighting design), Mick Potter (sound design), Josh Marquette (hair design), David Ruttura (associate director), Patrick O’Neill (associate choreographer), Tara Rubin Casting, Merri Sugarman (casting), John Rigby (music supervisor), Talitha Fehr (music coordinator), Martyn Axe (music director), Josh Zimmerman (children’s music director, band tech), Stuart Andrews (keyboard programming), Tim Burke (local music coordinator), Maia Sutton (company manager), Larry Smiglewski (stage manager), Amanda Kosack (asst. stage manager), Elizabeth Grunenwald (asst. company manager), Ryan B. Gibbs (production stage manager), Troika Entertainment (tour management), Jim Lanahan (general manager), The Booking Group (tour booking agency), Allied Touring (tour marketing, press), Troika Entertainment, Laura Dieli (production manager), Andrew Lloyd Webber (orchestrations), Bespoke Theatricals, Madeleine Lloyd Webber (executive producers), Matthew Murphy (photos)

Phoenix Schuman and Rob Colletti star as Zack and Dewey in School of Rock, Broadway Chicago


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Category: 2017 Reviews, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Broadway in Chicago, Cadillac Palace Theatre, Lauren Emily Whalen, Musical, National Tours

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