School of Rock The Musical at The Island Theater

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Performances:  April 28th – May 6th, 2018

Directors:  Tricia Williams & Evan Bowen

Who says that school can’t be fun?  Certainly not anyone who experiences the rockin’ good time delivered by the outstanding cast performing at The Island Theater this May.  The students of Horace Green are accustomed to rules, discipline, and the merit system.  Although all of these qualities are admirable, it takes a slacker with a passion for music to rock their worlds.  The production starts out with Dewey’s band ‘No Vacancy’ performing the song I’m Too Hot for You.  When the band members kick Dewey (Colin Harden) out of his own band for rocking out too hard, he returns to his best friend’s apartment to lounge around on the couch and contemplate his next move.  Unfortunately, Ned (Ian Leduc) has a girlfriend named Patty (Katie Morris) who is tired of Dewey’s freeloading.

After Ned and Patty leave to go to work, Dewey answers a phone call that is meant for Ned and accepts a substitute teaching position as Horace Green Preparatory School.  Dewey (and the audience) is then introduced to his students in an ensemble performance of Here at Horace Green led by the extremely talented Emily Turner as Rosalie Mullins the Head Mistress.  As Dewey becomes acquainted with the precocious youngsters and sees them in band class, he realizes that instead of teaching the traditional courses of study that they have the talent to form a band in order to compete in the Battle of the Bands.

With the hilarious rendition of You’re In the Band, Dewey assigns musical instruments and band support positions to the class.  Zack (Post to Post Links II error: No post found with slug "Mac Ganoe"), Lawrence (Nicholas Williams), Katie (Addison Slater), Freddy (Olivia Williams), Billy (Alex Williams), Shonelle (Cate McKay), Marcy (Alex Pearce), Madison (Shania Spencer), Sophie (Abby Mencner), and Mason (Hunter Hopkins) are all thrilled with their assignments but Summer (Jillian McKinney) is not satisfied until Dewey makes her the band manager.

Being the straight A students that they are Billy, Zack, Freddy, Lawrence, Tomika, and Madison rebel against Dewey’s methods with If You Would Only Listen.  Dewey responds with sharing that their new adventure will be called Project Rock Band with courses in Rock History, Rock Appreciation, and Rock Theory/Practice.  He also belts out an outstanding example of rock with In the End of Time where I swear his inner Jack Black came out.  The other teachers begin to complain about the noise and about Dewey in general with Faculty Quadrille before Dewey gathers the courage to ask Rosalie if he can take the children on a field trip.  Even though she denies his request, Dewey and his class sneak off to audition for The Battle of the Bands with their song Stick it to the Man (yes, I got goosebumps!)

Act 2 brings more mischief and music as Summer has an amazing solo Time to Play and Dewey learns how to get his field trip from a teacher’s meeting.  It is clear that Dewey is starting to fall for Rosalie when he takes her out for a drink and they sing Where Did the Music Go.  Alas, with Dewey’s dream just beyond his grasp, Ned learns of Dewey’s deceit and Rosalie warns Dewey that he better be prepared to show what he is teaching at Parent’s Night.  When Ned and Patty out Dewey at Parent’s Night, the class comes to his rescue by reprising If Only You’d Listen to their parents who are clearly missing out on the importance of classical rock music.  Just when Dewey is about the give up, his little rocksters convince him to join them in the Battle of the Bands.  During the competition, the audience cheers at Zach’s guitar solo and the cast draw the audience in to join them in School of Rock and their final performance of Stick it to Man.

From the moment that I had the pleasure to be entertained by the spectacular cast and crew of Almost, Maine, I was eagerly anticipating the opening of The School of Rock The Musical band.   I was overjoyed with the quality of the acting, set design, and overall feeling that I received from watching this team pour their hearts out in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new songs and songs from Jack Black’s 2003 film.  Colin Harden’s lead performance was outstanding with his impeccable timing, mannerisms, and facial expressions.  Emily, Phaedra, and Katy were a pleasure to watch and listen to since they all have voices that would make angels jealous.  Each and every performer deserves a standing ovation but I would be remiss if I didn’t call out Jillian, Alex, Nicholas, Addison, Olivia, and Mac for their contributions.  In my opinion, Jillian and Olivia displayed more talent in their pinky fingers than many stars on the big screen.

The only hiccup in the three hour (with intermission) running time was in the final set where the musical instruments were so loud that I couldn’t hear Colin singing School of Rock but was quickly fixed in the final song Stick It To The Man.  The impressive part was that the cast members were actually playing the instruments instead of pretending.  The theater was packed and I anticipate that every performance will be the same so get your tickets now or you may find yourself standing in the back!  As we all should pledge allegiance to the band, I highly encourage you to experience the passion of these Next Generation Actors and Actresses.

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About Laura McDonald