InterAction School of Performing Arts kicked off its Main Stage season with a musical rendition of the 2003 popular movie School of Rock. The story that arguably brought Jack Black to the peak of his career, and scored him a Golden Globe nominee for Best Actor in a musical or comedy, was just as enjoyable this time around as it was when it played at the Paramount Theatre fourteen years ago.
This very impressive adaptation of School of Rock was created by Julian Fellowes, who won the 2002 Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and was Executive Producer on the popular Downton Abbey. The lyrics were written by three-time Tony-nominee Glenn Slater, with new music from the ever-beloved Phantom of the Opera composer Andrew Lloyd Webber. This adaptation contains all the original songs from the movie but also has lots of wonderful new songs added.
This InterAction production is directed by Kate Wilcott, the Artistic/Education Director for InterAction, with musical direction from Chuck Teed. Teed is InterAction’s Director and recently took home the award for Arts Supporter at Saint John’s Originals.
Now to the stars of the show! The cast for this production was a large one and they did a fantastic job! In the lead role of Dewey Finn, the couch surfing friend that never pays rent and impersonates his teacher roommate to finally get some income, was Ian McGill. McGill is a seasoned performer with InterAction. He spent eight years with the company and graduated last June but has returned for this final performance with InterAction. McGill deserves a huge kudos for his performance last night. His high energy, hilarious performance really kept the whole show rolling. His vocals were impeccable. And if you remember Jack Black’s wide-ranging notes from the original movie, you know McGill had some challenging shoes to fill! McGill was flawless, however, and reached even the highest notes. Ian McGill also sings with local rock back Burgundy Drive, so it’s no wonder he pulled off the role so naturally.
Sophia Wilcott played the role of Principal Rosalie Mullins. She was amazing. She played the uptight but loveable character to a ‘T’. I was delighted to see Mullins afforded her own scores in this rendition and Wilcott sang them beautifully. This sixteen-year old in her eighth year with InterAction certainly has a bright future ahead of her. As do the rest of the cast, as was clear last night. With thirty-one cast members in total, and many more involved in stage production, there are simply too many in the cast and crew to credit here. They put on an impressive show last night.
It was at times difficult to make out the lyrics to some of the tunes, particularly for some of the younger actors. There were approximately five microphones at the front of the stage, and while the audience was able to make out enough of the lyrics for it to be entertaining, it would have served the performance well if individual headset mics had been available. Some of the actors would take the microphones off the stand for their line and then have to place it back on the mic stand before returning to their spot because, perhaps they got the sense their vocals weren’t being picked up on the mics very well in comparison to the volume of the band.
Apart from that, which was a minor inconvenience that really didn’t detract much from the show, I was totally blown away by School of Rock. The vocals were phenomenal – special shout out to Charlotte Harriman who killed it in the role of Tomika and stole the second act. Many of the youngsters on stage were also playing instruments and singing along with wonderful choreography as well.
Don’t miss this show. You can still catch the matinees show today and tomorrow at 1 P.M., and tonight at 7 P.M. at the Imperial Theatre for 22$, or 15$ for students and seniors.