Regional Premiere of School of Rock at the JRT

Published 3:31 pm Wednesday, March 1, 2023

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By Pam Johnson
Rock out at the Jonesborough Repertory Theatre with their production of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical School of Rock, the show made famous by the 2003 comedy starring Jack Black.
The story follows Dewey Finn (Corey Tickles), a down-and-out rock star wannabe, who needs to find a job. He poses as a substitute teacher at a prep school, where he secretly turns upper-class, straight-A students into a down-and-out, hardcore rock band.
“It is the most fun you’ll ever have at a musical,” said Sawyer Franklin, who plays Zach, the electric guitarist. “It has rock and sadness, and you will cry and laugh and rock your heart out all at the same time.”
For you diehard School of Rock movie fans, don’t think that the stage play won’t be just as fantastic. In some ways, it may be even better.
“There is always the challenge of living up to iconic characters that the movie created without trying to mimic them,” said director Diane Taveau. “We have worked very hard on staying true to beloved moments in the story, while giving the actors freedom to be the character they are playing, such as Dewey Finn, without trying to be Jack Black. The amazing job they’ve all done really propels you into the story onstage instead of comparing it to the film version. The show stands on its own two feet and I think actually fleshes out the backstories of the kids much better than the film does.”
Music, fun, and a bit of rebellion are what lay at the surface, but as with most shows, there’s so much being told in the underlying story.
“The show is all about being your true self and listening to others (especially kids),” said Catherine Squibb, who portrays Principal Rosalie Mullins. “I feel that especially in today’s social media and influencer society, it’s important to understand that you can still be yourself and like the things that you like, even if others don’t. I think that it’s also important to know that there’s always someone out there ready to listen to what you have to say.”
And the message is just as applicable today as it was when the movie was released 20 years ago.
“Finding your voice and being true to yourself are always relevant to any generation,” said Taveau. “The message and the music of the show are so upbeat and universal that all ages can relate to the story.”
Abram Helton, who plays the keyboardist Lawrence, agreed. “I think that the theme of breaking free from who you are expected to be and figuring out who you really are is something that has always been important and always will be.”
To sum up the show, Squibb said, “I would describe it as a rockin’ and heartwarming journey of growth and understanding. All the characters – from the kids to the teachers to the parents – undergo a journey of self-discovery and growth. I think anyone that sees the show can take away a message about self-appreciation. Also, the music is rock and roll, so what more could you want?”
The music of School of Rock is written by Andrew Lloyd Webber, lyrics are by Glen Slater, and the book is by Julian Fellowes. The show is directed by Diane Taveau, music directed by Liz Dollar, assistant directed by Krista Wharton, and stage managed by Bennett Little. This production is sponsored by Saladworks, Pamela & Dan Pope, Ignacy Fonberg, and Sonia King.
Rounding out the cast are Dave Bernhardt, Aubrey Christie, Shannon Cook, Liz Dollar, Sophie Dollar, Shawn Hale, Gleason Holt, Kimberly Holt, Jansen Jarnigan, Chris Jones, Hannah Love, Daniel Matthews, Maddox Miniard, Aden Moore, Lily Murphy, Elliott Price, Joy Pridemore, Abby Raper, Justin Reilly, Joe Smith, Sharon Squibb, Parker Stansell, Gracie Stiltner, Alix Thompson, and Bryttany Todd.
Shows run Thursdays through Sundays, March 2 – 19. Tickets are $18 general admission, $16 for students and seniors. There is also a special group rate for parties of 15 or more. To purchase tickets, call the Historic Jonesborough Visitors Center at 423-753-1010 or go online to The theatre is located at 125.5 W. Main St., Jonesborough.
Disclaimer: Mild language is used in this production.

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