Home Rock music “Rousing rock musical” on stage at the Community Little Theater

“Rousing rock musical” on stage at the Community Little Theater

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‘School of Rock – The Musical’ cast members playing Horace Green School students skeptically watch as Dewey Finn, an out-of-work rock singer and guitarist who claims to be a substitute teacher, begins to lead them in the song “Stick it to the Man” at the Community Little Theater in Auburn. Left to right are Paige Scala, Julia Pfohl, Maisy Seaver, Daphne Cifelli, Brendan Bouchard, Ellie Pfohl, Isana Bell and Lena LaRoche. Photo submitted

As August heads into the beginning of fall, somewhere inside each of us, back-to-school memories creep into our lives.

“School of Rock – The Musical,” currently playing at the Lewiston-Auburn Community Little Theater, gives us a raucous (rock-us) opportunity to revisit those golden days as students, parents, and teachers. But the somewhat cloudy lens through which we’ll see all of this wildly is through a bizarre individual: Dewey Finn, played by Brendon Bouchard.

Treat yourself to this modern and powerful fable of music and theater inhabited mainly by endearing and talented young actors.

Under the direction of Paul Caron, exceptional musical numbers by Andrew Lloyd Webber are performed live. A terrific, yet invisible, house band and a very talented cast of young actors bring the music to life. It is for them that this musical is written.

The secret truth in the unique plot is that creative expression, self-confidence, and personal growth are nurtured by the arts.

Music is the vehicle in this case, but it could just as well be painting, sculpture or writing. Each of these vehicles is sometimes driven by mentors, coaches or influencers who may not fit traditional molds or use conventional methods. The extraordinarily large cast is proof of that.

A crestfallen Dewey Finn, played by Brendan Bouchard, lies on the couch as his friends Patty (Adelyn Bell) and Ned (Justin Morin) vent their frustration for their less than welcome guest. Photo submitted

As you flip through the poster, you will notice that mothers, fathers and their daughters are among the many actors. All pay tribute to the teachers and mentors who have inspired and encouraged them throughout their journey.

In Act I, Dewey Finn, an unequivocal mess, is kicked out of his band, No Vacancy, for his over the top antics on stage. Relegated to couch surfing with his old friend and former teammate Ned Schneebly (Justin Morin) and his girlfriend Patty Di Marco (Adelyn Bell), Dewy is an insufferable jerk.

Patty wants the profiteer out, because his presence is anathema to her work ethic and values. Ned realized that he and Dewey would never be the rock stars they had always dreamed of being. Instead, Ned has found work as a substitute teacher but struggles to tell Dewey to leave.

Following a chance phone call and in a shrewd attempt to earn “easy money”, Dewey impersonates Ned to get a job as a substitute teacher at the prestigious and expensive Horace Green School. This is where the hectic plot begins to run, rock, and roll.

As Dewey, Brendon Bouchard is a maniacal, abrasive, loud, anti-establishment presence throughout the play. Jumping from scene to scene with boundless energy, he is the driving force behind the story from beginning to end. His musicality, his vocal talent and his physique are imposing and formidable.

Mrs. Rosalie Mullins (Mackenzie Richard), the poised and no-nonsense principal of Horace Green, is appalled by the fake “Ned Schneebly” and tries to impress upon him the decorum and discipline expected of a successful teacher. Her talents are showcased throughout the piece, but are particularly showcased in the “Horace Green Alma Mater” number and a stunning rendition of “Queen of the Night”, composed by none other than Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Unaware of educational standards, the hungover Dewy walks into his classroom to greet his pupils – a group of freshly washed and neatly uniformed children – who we soon learn have been enrolled in Horace Green to fulfill the desire of their parents to guide and control the future of their children. Here, Dewy proclaims that there will be permanent recess and no homework. After a hilarious attempt to get food to cure his hangover, Dewy climbs onto his desk demanding to be left alone while he sleeps.

This is where the show takes off and shines. Dewy learns that there is latent musical talent in his students. He concocts a plan to turn the class into a group of rock musicians to participate in a Battle of the Bands, which happens to be offered a $20,000 prize which he hopes to capture.

The cast of talented young students is exceptional, endearing, charming and captivating. Summer (Lena Laroche), a sassy and outspoken young woman, quickly asserts herself as a future leader by berating the reprobate substitute for his behavior in class. Tomika (Meghan Rivard) plays the “new student” as a shy wallflower who, in Act II, blossoms into the lead singer of the newly formed group.

Freddie (Owen Hiltz), loud on cymbals in traditional music class, finds a home on drums. Katie (Maisy Seaver) swaps her cello for the electric bass. Lawrence (Zane Deletetsky) becomes the keyboardist and Zack (Dashiell Legawiec) ties up with the electric guitar.

And just like that, the fledgling band, the School of Rock, was formed.

A loud “You’re in the Group” number finds spots for everyone in the class to participate. Shonelle and Marcy (Daphne Cifelle and Isana Bell) become backup singers, and two other girls, Madison (Evie True) and Sophie (Ellie Pfohl), are the roadies.

For more technical duties, Mason (Paige Scala) is in charge of the lights, Jamie (Violet McDonald) is named security guard, and an ecstatic Billy (Julia Pfohl) is named band stylist. Summer is angry that she didn’t get a job, so Dewey makes her the band’s manager. The only student left without a job is Tomika, the shy new girl, but her opportunity will come. Confident in their outlook, Dewey distributes iconic band CDs to students to listen to as homework.

Quick scene changes move the story forward. From the Schneebly lounge to the teachers’ lounge, in and out of the classroom to the hallway, quick vignettes introduce and further develop many of the characters. A series of spotlights on parents interacting (or not) with their children highlights the disconnect between them and their expectations as the students lament in the song “If only you would listen”.

Act II opens with group sparring sessions, impending late-night complications for the parents, and a heated relationship between Dewey and Mrs. Mullins, bringing the battle of the groups closer to reality. But Ned and Patty discover Dewey’s deception and bring his impersonation scheme to the attention of Mrs. Mullins and the band members’ parents.

As the plan to participate in the Battle of the Bands at the Palace Theater seems to fall apart, Dewey and the students sneak out amidst the confusion. Watch for a clever tableau of their escape, which is a nod to Paul McCartney’s “Band on the Run” album cover.

Needless to say, the band reached the Palace Theater just in time to perform against the rebooted band, No Vacancy, which had Dewey kicked out. Parents arrive in time to see their children rock the house and recognize how music has changed them all for the better.

This catchy rock musical will take place on Saturday, August 13 at 7:30 p.m.; From Thursday to Saturday 18, 19 and 20 August, at 7.30 p.m.; and Sunday, August 21 at 2 p.m.


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