School of Rock-The Musical

The cast of the School of Rock Tour; photo by Matthew Murphy

School of Rock jams into Austin this week with soul and energy and an original score by Andrew Lloyd Webber! The Musical was nominated for four 2016 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Score (Lloyd Webber and Glenn Slater), Best Book (Julian Fellowes), and Best Leading Actor in a Musical (Alex Brightman). You are familiar with the movie, but should relive it live on stage at Texas Performing Arts' Bass Concert Hall.

CBS Austin talked with Matt Bittner, who plays Ned Schneedbly. "In the 2003 film, the role was actually played by the writer of the film, Mike White. I'm Dewey's roommate, and we used to have a death metal band together called 'Maggot Death,' which I like to imagine was pretty sub-par, but a lot of fun. I've since learned, with the help of my lovely and domineering girlfriend, Patty, that there's not much of a future there for me and have given up my old life to become a substitute teacher. And at home, I'm essentially stuck between a rock (Patty) and a hard place (Dewey). You'd never guess by my behavior and clothes that there's a death metal god inside me somewhere. So it's a pretty unique character to bring to life. And if folks remember the movie, I'm of course who Dewey pretends to be in order to get the job at Horace Green Prep School," Bittner says as he gives a shout out to scenic and costume designer, Anna Louizos.

Matt told us that the added songs gives a different look to the story. "There are several new songs that are definitely ear worms. What we get in the movie is a very Dewey-centric tale. We see the wannabe rock star find his own way with the help of the children he teaches. However, in the musical we get to see more clearly just how much Dewey changes the kids." According to Matt, one of the main songs that shows this is If Only You Would Listen, that has lyrics that explains what's going on at home for the kids and the extreme pressure that they are under to live up to their parents' expectations.

"In the reprise of that same song, the kids let Dewey know just how much it meant to them that he was there for them and willing to give them voices of their own. The reprise is my favorite song in the show. And the pit orchestra really brings something special to that tune, in my opinion.

Most of the kids are between 9-13 and Matt tells us that they bring 110% to the table and have so much energy. One of the most interesting things that we learned was unlike other plays where you have one person being an understudy for one particular character, there are two boys and two girls who have to have all 12 of the characters memorized to jump in at any time. This can't be an easy task. Matt told us and they grow up so fast, and because they get above a certain age, that they will graduate from the School of Rock in a few months and they will bring in new young actors to the company to play these roles.

Compared to other Broadway shows, Matt is convinced that there's something for everyone here. "If you love the movie and love the humor that Jack Black brought to the story, you'll love the show. If you love the sweeping, catching musical voice of Andrew Lloyd Webber, you'll love the show. If you've got kids who dream of being a rock star of a musical theater performer, they'll love the show. And if you want to take a step away from all the turmoil of the world that seems to be ever growing and just have a joy-filled night of laughter, you'll love the show. And to boot, there's no other show out there where you'll see 9-13 year old kids acting up a storm and playing instruments at the level of people three times their age. It's a blast."

Bass Concert Hall

February 13 - 18, Weekdays at 8pm except on Monday, Saturday 2pm & 8pm, and Sunday 1pm & 7pm

For tickets, call (512) 477-6060 or click here:

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