There has been a trend to turn popular movies into musicals. I have seen quite a few of these shows. Some of them have translated over well, others not so well. Just because a movie was a big hit at the theatre, doesn’t mean it will be the same on stage. Reluctantly I attended Broadway in Chicago’s latest production of the hilarious Jack Black vehicle “School of Rock.” As I waited for the show to begin, I listened to conversations around me. Conventional theatre critics were also skeptical. But then the curtain rose…
Music al director Martin Axe had his work cut out for him. But the music was the star of the night with rockin tunes and an energetic cast. Rob Coletti was definitely not the typical Webber star. He was not a romantic lead or a tragic cat. He embodied the fun loving Dewey and even resembled Black in mannerisms and looks. Hurray, hope for us actors that aren’t a size two. He embraced the character and looked like he was having fun. Lexie Dorsett Sharp portrayed the stick up her butt principal, Rosalie. She didn’t make the portrayal a carbon copy of the Cusack role. She made the part her own. Another highlight was her beautiful operatic timbre and soprano voice. Emily Borromeo played Patty with the same caliber of evil as Rita Rupalsa of the “Power Rangers” . nemesis. She was the perfect foil to her formerly cool boyfriend played by Matt Bitner with an incredible comic sense of timing. Everyone was laughing as the panicky Ned inhaled with every word Dewey said.
One of the hardest parts of a show is when you involve kids in a cast. I can say this with all of the musicals and children’s theatre I have done. It conjures up images of precocious children and their stage mothers from hell. You also have a tendency to envision every production of “Annie “ that you have ever seen. This was definitely not “Annie.” These kids had real musical talent and they looked like they were having fun up there jumping around and dancing. It was the perfect show to take budding performers to rather than some dried up play. Ava Briglia was charming and terrifying as Summer. She portrayed the bratty know it all to perfection. The other kids to note were the “band.” And the backup singers. The kids actually played the instruments thus showing their talent and bravo for keeping up energy during this fast paced show. Gianna Harris stole everyone’s heart as Tomika, the girl with two daddies. Her lyrical voice further cemented her endearing qualities. Each young cast member brought their own to the production and gave the individual characters their own touch.
The show runs through November 19 at the Cadillac Palace, get your tickets at broadwayinchicago.com