The School of Rock is back in session. Andrew Lloyd Webber, renowned composer of the musicals The Phantom of the Opera, Cats and Jesus Christ Superstar among many others, has recently announced that he has bought the theatrical rights to the 2003 Jack Black comedy film, School of Rock. Black stars as the middle-aged rocker Dewey Finn who is still trying to live his rock and roll dreams. Unfortunately he is fired from his band and his dreams can’t pay the rent. When he gets the chance to be a substitute teacher and realizes his classroom has some musical chops, they form a whiz-kid rock group to compete in the local battle of the bands. Hijinks and rock and roll music ensue.
While acknowledging the songs already contained within the movie, the Lord Lloyd Webber has stated that he is excited to add his own work to the eventual show. Since he needs something to do after Love Never Dies and School of Rock is an awesome movie, here are five reasons why School of Rock: The Musical is a great idea.
First, the music. The movie showcases the very best of the classic rock canon, including Jimi Hendrix, AC/DC, David Bowie, The Who, Pink Floyd, Rush, The Ramones, Black Sabbath, Yes, The Clash and Led Zeppelin. The playlist is a rock lover’s dream. While jukebox musicals are not exactly the most creative type of show on Broadway, this rich rock background is sure to influence the composition and that can only be a good thing. Hopefully Lloyd Webber can still rock out because if he can the music will be hair-raising, head-banging, crowd-surfing good.
Second is clearly tourist appeal. The movie already has a built-in following and producers love adaptations because the audience already knows what they are getting. Tourists go to New York, they see advertisements for a familiar show and they are more likely to buy the ticket. Additionally, it’s a feel good story that everyone can enjoy. Singing dancing drag queens are popular on Broadway but families from middle America are probably more likely to go see a proven rock musical than the latest bejeweled show-stopper.
Third is the kid angle. Who hates seeing kids on stage? Nobody, that’s who. Look at Matilda, Annie, Billy Eliot, Oliver! and a host of other successful shows. The kids in School of Rock come with stage-ready school uniforms, zany antics and catchphrases, relatable characters and compelling stories. The 2003 cast were all very talented performers who were both charming actors and gifted musicians. On top of that, the kids form a rock band: There’s the punk drummer, the goofy pianist, the rebel guitarist and the preppy band manager. Then they play a rock concert. If that doesn’t spell success, what does?
Fourth, the show is made for a stage. Whether it is a concert stage or a theater stage it should be right at home in front of an audience. There are three basic sets: The apartment, the school and the concert hall where the battle of the bands takes place. Imagine seeing the battle of the bands competition happening under bright lights on a concert stage with fog, strobe lights and laser beams. The musical could combine the best of stage magic and concert effects into one rocking show. Throw in a couple of legitimate rock bands to compete with the kids and bam: a rock musical spectacular.
Fifth and final is Jack Black. Or at least the character of Dewey Finn. He is a larger than life character who fibs his way into substitute teaching only to create a rock band with his students to win battle of the bands for rent money. He’s like Max Bialystock from The Producers or Professor Harold Hill from The Music Man or Jack Black from the band Tenacious D. Finn is a con man but a lovable con man. In the end he learns a valuable lesson about music, art and being true to yourself. Along the way, Black jokes, teaches kids to rock out and how to stick it to the man. It is a well-rounded role that any actor would be proud to try on. If Black is not convinced to join the production, there is no reason why Josh Gad couldn’t be a part of the show.
How soon could we see School of Rock: The Musical? Unfortunately for School of Rock fans, no announcement has been made regarding casting, the creative team or production. Though besides Black or Gad, Adam Pascal could always come back (he played the musician Theo in the movie). With a hot property and a legendary composer, things can only be looking up for this musical to be. Hopefully it gets to keep on rocking.