This season I was supposed to review 5 youth group productions, but the theatre gods were against me, as for each show I had to cancel last minute either due to work or illness. Then finally the skies opened up and Ms. Theatre-God herself (yes I believe that the theatre god is a woman, obviously!) shouted down and said, “Hey there Mal! Take a break from all your time at the cottage, come on back to the real world and go review Vocally Inspired Performers’ production of School of Rock – The Musical.”
When I arrived at the Uxbridge Music Hall I felt an incredible energy throughout it. There were so many kids everywhere; with their parents, on their own, all dressed up and ready to support their friends or family in this rockin’ musical! I was curious how this Jack Black movie would translate to stage and even more curious to see if I enjoyed the new music that was written by the one and only Andrew Lloyd Webber. FYI, I was not disappointed!
Let’s start with Ryan Whitty, who had the immense task of stepping into Jack Black’s shoes to play the role of Dewey Finn. To play this role you have to be at 125% energy ALL, THE, TIME! You have 39 kids on stage with you, demanding your attention, positivity and encouragement and in this case, Ryan is a kid himself (although a very tall and mature one!). He handled the stage, the kids, the singing, the physicality of the role and swoosh of his Bieber style hair-cut with such ease. Are you going to be in another show soon? Please let me know because I wanna see more of you on stage!
When arriving to see a musical about rock music, one does not typically expect to hear the epic Queen of the Night aria from The Magic Flute. But hear it we did when the stunning Alannah Beauparlant graced the stage as school principal Rosalie Mullins. Alannah’s voice is stunning, which anyone with ears could tell you. What I can say, as a person who studied opera for 4 years, is that she has a natural talent and ability that transcends anyone of her age, that I have ever heard, that is. I am always jealous of singers with exceptional agility with their voices as that is not a quality that my voice possesses. Well, tonight I was 100% jealous of Alannah. She’s a teenager and when I listened to her sing, I felt like I could imagine what she would sound like when she was my age and I got so excited to hear her voice grow and change over the next decade. Keep nurturing your gift, girl, and there is no doubt in my mind that you will do extraordinary things with your voice!
ANOTHER'S NOTION WITH CAROL SALAMONE
Being in a band: Sure, its cool. But don’t let
anyone fool you; it’s a tough gig.
Then try acting in a musical as someone
who hasn’t really come out of their shell,
is trying to express who they are, thinking
that there’s nothing “cool" about them.
Then, add on playing an instrument, for real,
as the accompaniment to said musical,
and you’ve got Ben Wyatt-Buren, Andrew Worts,
Joel Schmidt and Molly Priestman…a.k.a. Zack,
Freddy, Lawrence and Katie. Joel had some great moves
and smooth glissandos. Katie definitely knew how to
walk that bass. Joel, your time was spot on! Ben, man oh man,
do you have pipes to go along with some awesome guitar solos.
Way to go rockin’ down the house!
My mother and I (did I mention that Carol is my mother?) are sticklers for choruses. If I chorus is good, the show is good. If a chorus is bad, typically we don’t like the show. Sometimes people stand out (good or bad), but in tonight’s case someone very rare and special stood out to both of us. As such, I have decided to create an award. This award will be given out from time to time when a member of the chorus in a musical stands out to me as the most focused, energetic and dedicated member of the ensemble. This award will be called “Claudia’s Chorus” and it is named for the talented and adorable Miss Claudia Malcolm. You were so remarkable to watch. You jumped high, fist pumped and engaged with all of your fellow performers on stage. You were inclusive, positive and always “on”. There was never a moment that you weren’t 110% invested in your performance. And so, from now on, if anyone is ever as amazing as you were in the chorus tonight, I will bestow this honour upon them.
- To Cameron Scott as the tight-laced, preppy schoolgirl turned kick-butt band manger, Summer Hathaway.
- To Lauren Trueman who surprised us all with her absolutely beautiful voice in the stand-out role of Tomika Spencer.
- To Kaden Hill who had me laughing every time he was on stage and then confidently carried off the single-greatest costume change in the whole show. You rocked that makeup like a true star! Also, your Rock Band war was epic!
- To all 40 kids who brought more energy, pure enthusiasm and a deep love of theatre than quite frankly I saw in many of adult productions I saw this past season. It is really, truly a gift to see children expressing themselves, coming together and putting on a remarkable production the way you all did tonight. You should be so proud of yourselves, each and every one of you!
A huge CONGRATULATIONS to the cast, crew and creative team of Vocally Inspired Performers’ production of School of Rock – The Musical! It runs August 17-20 and 25-26 at the Uxbridge Music Hall. Tickets are available at http://www.starticketing.com. I can only imagine that this show will sell out fast (youth shows generally do!) so please check out the website and book your tickets NOW! This is not a show to miss!