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Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Broadway Trifecta Scores Big

January 2nd, 2017 Comments off
'School of Rock' (Photo: Matthew Murphy via The Broadway Blog.)

‘School of Rock’ (Photo: Matthew Murphy via The Broadway Blog.)

All three of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Broadway musicals rang in the New Year with record-breaking sales, smashing house records at the Winter Garden (School of Rock – The Musical), Majestic (The Phantom of the Opera) and Neil Simon (CATS) Theatres. 

School of Rock – The Musical shattered the house record for the third time at the Winter Garden Theatre by grossing $2,022,136.11for the week ending December 31, 2016. The prior record was set this week last year by the musical which grossed $1,671,628.18. Additionally, School of Rock set a new record for the highest grossing single performance in the Winter Garden’s history at theWednesday, December 28 matinee, with a gross of $241,819.50. In the U.K., School of Rock broke house records at the New London Theatre (a record previously held by War Horse).

Kim Faure and Christine Cornish Smith in 'CATS.' (Photo: Matthew Murphy via The Broadway Blog.)

Kim Fauré and Christine Cornish Smith in ‘CATS.’ (Photo: Matthew Murphy via The Broadway Blog.)

At the Majestic Theatre, Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera smashed its previous show / house record with a final gross of$1,942,351.00 for the week ending December 31, 2016.The record was set previously for the week ending December 29, 2013 when the musical grossed $1,843,295.83.

The first-ever revival of Lloyd Webber’s CATS broke house records at the Neil Simon for a 9-performance week, smashing the record previously set by All The Way, with a $1,723,568.70 gross for the week ending December 31, 2016.

Review: Broadway’s ‘School of Rock’

December 6th, 2015 Comments off

by Ryan Leeds

Alex Brightman and the cast of 'School of Rock.' (Photo: Matthew Murphy via The Broadway Blog.)

Alex Brightman and the cast of ‘School of Rock.’ (Photo: Matthew Murphy via The Broadway Blog.)

The kids are most definitely, all right. From this year’s bundle of cuteness in the latest revival of The King and I, to the dancing defiance that continues to play out in Matilda, it is safe to say the the future of Broadway rests in solid hands. The latest tribe of talented youth is currently taking the Winter Garden Theatre by storm in composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyricist Glenn Slater’s musical School of Rock.

Based on the 2003 film of the same name, the tuner tells the completely unrealistic but charming tale about Dewey Finn (Alex Brightman), a washed up bum of a rock singer who shacks up in the home of his best friend/former rocker turned educator, Ned Schneebly (Spencer Moses). Facing pressure from Ned and his girlfriend, Patty De Marco (Mamie Parris), to pay the rent or move out, Dewey craftily concocts a plan when he receives a phone call from the prestigious Horace Green prep school. It turns out they are seeking a substitute teacher. With quick wit and a streak of opportunism, Finn poses as his best friend, accepts the job and arrives, hungover, to instruct the elementary tykes. He soon discovers that a streak of music mania runs through them and, instead of educating them with the intended curriculum, he throws his efforts into preparing them for a Battle of the Bands rock contest. Meanwhile, uptight principal Rosalie Mullins (Sierra Boggess) suspects that her class is not in the best hands. But, as is the case in movies and musical theater, happy endings ensue. When Mullins finally lets down her hair, love blossoms between her and Finn and conquers all.

'School of Rock' (Photo: Matthew Murphy via The Broadway Blog.)

‘School of Rock’ (Photo: Matthew Murphy via The Broadway Blog.)

At first glance, it seemed to me an odd choice for Lloyd Webber to have been at the helm here. For so long, I’ve related him to the schmaltzy (but admittedly enjoyable) music of Evita, Cats, and Phantom of the Opera. It then occurred to me that he composed the more hard-driving Jesus Christ Superstar and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, both of which offered more edge than the usual Broadway fare. He’s gone back to his roots with this score, even if he has consciously or sub-consciously stolen some riffs from existing artists. The students plea to their parents to be recognized, “If Only You Would Listen” is lifted directly from Lloyd Webber’s former writing partner, Tim Rice, who lyricized Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus’ “Someone Else’s Story” in Chess. Another song of defiance, “Stick It To the Man,” which in typical Lloyd Webber fashion is reprised multiple times, is a dead ringer for Pink’s “So What” (and offers the exact sentiment of Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It”). The rest of his score is serviceable, but not terribly memorable.

Sierra Boggess in 'School of Rock' (Photo: Matthew Murphy via The Broadway Blog.)

Sierra Boggess in ‘School of Rock’ (Photo: Matthew Murphy via The Broadway Blog.)

Even more surprising is the under-utilization of Sierra Boggess, whose glorious soprano captivates audiences every time she opens her mouth. In a recent New York TimesTalk, Lloyd Webber praised her as being one of his favorite performers to interpret the role of Christine in Phantom of the Opera and its sequel. One must then inquire why he didn’t choose to give her more to do here. Aside from a cheeky rendition of Mozart’s “Queen of the Night” aria and an adequate ballad in Act II (“Where Did the Rock Go”) there’s not a lot for her to do but scowl and glance disapprovingly at her staff.

Brightman is a true fireball. With a strong, powerful rock voice and  limber physicality, he is bringing enough energy to power Times Square. Some may argue that he’s simply impersonating Jack Black, but so be it. Black’s enthusiastic energy was contagious in the film, and Brightman is bringing that same level of charm to the stage.

But back to those kids! Sure, we’ve seen children sing. We’ve seen them dance. We’ve seen them act, and we’ve seen them play instruments. But this cast is doing it all with more intensity than you’d expect. A recorded announcement at the top of the show informs us that, yes, they are in fact playing their own instruments. What is so impressive and commendable is the inspiration this will yield for young theatergoers. It also provides a solid case for lawmakers and educational institutions to keep music programs in schools.

School of Rock, directed by Laurence Conner,  is not  one of the best shows on the boards right now. It is extremely loud and bombastic. But through all of the clutter, a great, big heart exists. Maybe this crotchety theater reviewer prefers more peaceful fare, but younger generations crave—and deserve—role models, which School of Rock will no doubt provide.

School of Rock
Winter Garden Theatre
50th Street and Broadway
Open-ended run.

Ryan Leeds is a freelance theater journalist who lives in Manhattan. He is the Chief Theater Critic for Manhattan Digest and a frequent contributor to Dramatics Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @Ry_Runner or on Facebook.

Lottery! ‘School of Rock’ Now in Previews

November 9th, 2015 Comments off
Alex Brightman and the cast of 'School of Rock' (photo: Timmy Blupe via The Broadway Blog.)

Alex Brightman and the cast of ‘School of Rock’ (photo: Timmy Blupe via The Broadway Blog.)

Beginning today with the first preview performance on Monday, November 9, 2015, School of Rock – The Musical will host a daily lottery ticket drawing. Entries will be accepted outside the Winter Garden Theatre box office (1634 Broadway) beginning two hours prior to each performance, and names will be drawn at random, for a limited number of $25 front row orchestra tickets, 90 minutes before curtain time. See below for complete rules and regulations.

Based on the 2003 film of the same title, School of Rock – The Musical will feature music from the movie, as well as an original score by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyricist Glenn Slater, with a book by Julian Fellowes and direction by Laurence Connor(currently represented on Broadway by Les Miserables). 

School of Rock – The Musical follows Dewey Finn, a failed wannabe rock star who decides to earn a few extra bucks by posing as a substitute teacher at a prestigious prep school. Completely disinterested in academic work, Dewey decides to create his own curriculum, turning his class into a guitar-shredding, bass-slapping, mind-blowing rock band.

Tickets for School of Rock – The Musical are available by visiting the Winter Garden Theatre box office Monday – Saturdays between 10:00 am – 8:00 pm, online at Telecharge.com, or by calling 800-447-7400.

Warner Bros. Records will release the Original Broadway Cast Recording for School of Rock – The Musical on Friday, December 4, 2015, on the eve of opening night. The new album will feature a new score by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyricist Glenn Slater, along with three songs from the immensely popular 2003 film. Three-time Grammy Award-winner Rob Cavallo, who has worked with Green Day, My Chemical Romance, Paramore, Goo Goo Dolls, Phil Collins, and Gary Clark Jr., produced the album along with Lloyd Webber.

The complete rules and regulations for the new lottery policy are as follows:

–          A limited number of tickets for each performance will be sold via lottery.

–          Entries will be accepted at the box office beginning two hours prior to each performance.

–          90 minutes before curtain, names will be drawn at random for a limited number of tickets priced at $25.00 each.

–          Limit one entry per person and two tickets per winner – entries will be checked for duplicates.

–          Winners must be present at the time of the drawing and show valid ID to purchase tickets.

–          Tickets may be purchased in cash or with a valid credit card.

–          Tickets are subject to availability.

–          Tickets will be located in the first row of the orchestra.

–          The cancelation line will begin following the lottery.

–          A limited number of standing room tickets will be available at the box office for $27.50 on the day of the performance, and only when the performance is sold out.

‘School of Rock’ Goes to School

October 12th, 2015 Comments off
Alex Brightman and the cast of 'School of Rock' (photo: Timmy Blupe via The Broadway Blog.)

Alex Brightman and the cast of ‘School of Rock’ (photo: Timmy Blupe via The Broadway Blog.)

Andrew Lloyd Webber and R&H Theatricals, a division of Rodgers & Hammerstein, an Imagem Company, announced today that high schools and youth performance groups in the USA and Canada will soon be able to perform School of Rock – The Musical. In an unprecedented move, Lloyd Webber has teamed with R&H Theatricals to grant youth performance rights before opening night on Broadway. School of Rock – The Musical will begin preview performances on Monday, November 9, 2015, with an opening set for Sunday, December 6, 2015. Applications for School of Rock – The Musical will be accepted immediately. Performance and Perusal Materials will ship to interested performance groups shortly after opening night, in January 2016.

“This musical is entirely about empowering kids to rock out, so what better way to herald its arrival and celebrate its themes than to allow youth performances from coast-to-coast,” Lloyd Webber said about the announcement.  “This will allow young fans to engage with the material in a much deeper way, and we think will only heighten enthusiasm for our Broadway premiere.”

Based on the smash hit 2003 film of the same title, School of Rock – The Musical will feature music from the movie, as well as an original score by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyricist Glenn Slater, with a book by Julian Fellowes and direction by Laurence Connor (currently represented on Broadway by Les Miserables).

Produced by Paramount Pictures, the 2003 film was directed by Richard Linklater and starred Jack Black in a career-defining performance. The film was hailed by The New York Times as an “irresistible comic postscript to the rock revolution.” The film went on to gross more than $130 million worldwide.

School of Rock – The Musical follows Dewey Finn, a failed wannabe rock star who decides to earn a few extra bucks by posing as a substitute teacher at a prestigious prep school. Completely disinterested in academic work, Dewey decides to create his own curriculum, turning his class into a guitar-shredding, bass-slapping, mind-blowing rock band.

Tickets for School of Rock – The Musical are available by visiting the Winter Garden Theatre box office Monday– Saturdays between 10:00 am – 8:00 pm, online at Telecharge.com, or by calling 800-447-7400.