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School of Rock

Over Thanksgiving break, I had a cinematic homework assignment for myself. In preparation for the following weekend's NYC trip and Broadway binge, I had two very specific movies to watch: School of Rock and Misery. I'll give you three guesses what two shows I was seeing.

Starting off with School of Rock, I always forget how good this movie is. Well after the stage version, I'm not likely to forget that again, but hold up, we'll get there. Movie first.

Just in case there's one poor unfortunate soul out there reading this that isn't familiar, here's the rundown. Jack Black's Dewey Finn is basically every slacker Jack Black character ever (especially his Tenacious D alter ego JB). Because of reasons (such as being kicked out of his band and needing to advance the plot), he impersonates his substitute teacher roommate and gets hired to work at a very prestigious elementary school. When he finds out his students are actually pretty good musicians, he enlists them in forming the rock band of his dreams. He educates them in the awesome of rock as they prepare for a big battle of the bands coming up, which Dewey thinks will solve all his problems.

As with most every other movie of his, this really hinges on Black. If you can't stand him or his humor, you probably don't wanna see this. That said, it's the kids that really steal the show. They're all very different three dimensional characters, who kick butt at what they do, and have the well deserved attitude to go with it. Oh and these kids play their own instruments too. Really it's just a fun movie that you think will be mindless noise, but it's actually kinda uplifting and wonderful. Protip, be sure and check out the special features to find the clip of Jack Black begging Led Zeppelin to use The Immigrant Song. Or maybe just click on the YouTube link I provided. Either works.

So, the stage version. Oh my rock gods, it was such a fun show. I sat in the almost back row of the theater with the BFFF, because of course the best way to enjoy cheesy rock is to have the two of us together (he's the Wayne to my Garth). And oh man, we were rocking out pretty hardcore back there. The music, fantastic, and also by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Yeah, that Andrew Lloyd Webber. Whodda thunk? Okay sure there's a lot of I'm-in-a-musical-so-I'm-singing songs, but the rock ones (including a couple lifted from the movie) are killer.

The humor is all there, many lines verbatim from the screenplay. The kids are playing their instruments for reals, live on stage! (I told the bass player at the stage door that I hope my one day future daughter is half as badass as she is.) The only minor differences were that there was a slight romantic subplot that had originally been cut from the movie (eh), and some of the children's characters were even more developed (yay).

For me though, the best part of the show was Alex Brightman stepping in as Dewey. He had the mischievous spirit of Jack Black without mimicking him. Just from the clips I was watching in the days leading up to the show, I was totally crushing on him. During the opening number, every time he was rocking out like a dork running all over the stage, I kept turning to the bestie saying "I love him". He just has this infectious child-like vibe about him that I could not get enough of. The powers that be certainly chose well in casting this show, chancing it on a relatively unknown actor.

Now excuse me while I go listen to the soundtrack yet again.
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