There are not many things that can stir up those familiar feelings of adolescent angst the way a rock band of kids in prep-school uniforms rebelling against societal expectations can. And making its way to the 5-8-5 is a musical that does just that.
With music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, lyrics by Glenn Slater and a book by Julian Fellowes, School of Rock is based off the 2003 movie of the same name. The musical follows Dewey Finn, a washed up, down on his luck rock singer and guitarist, as he impersonates a substitute teacher at a prestigious prep school. After uncovering the hidden talents of these uptight fifth graders, Dewey forms a student rock band, in an attempt to win the upcoming Battle of the Bands competition.
The four time Tony-nominated musical premiered on Broadway in December of 2015 and opens its first national tour here in Rochester, NY on September 30th at the Auditorium Theatre.
Rockng his way to Rochester, with the cast of School of Rock, is Matt Bittner, playing the role of Ned. Dewey’s spineless roommate and former band mate, Ned has since given up his rock-n-roll dreams in favor of a more practical career as a substitute teacher. Unbeknownst to Ned, however, Dewey, in an attempt to pay the rent, decides to impersonate Ned in a substitute teaching position.
In his first national tour, Bittner has embraced the role – connecting to Ned in any way he can.
“While I was never a cross-dressing incubus from a death metal band,” says Bittner, “I do feel like the nerdy side to Ned – the side that unintentionally says things that are pretty peculiar and geeky – I feel like I understand that.”
Having most recently starred alongside Kevin Kline and Kate Burton in the 2017 Broadway revival of Present Laughter, Bittner is no stranger to holding his own next to talented actors. However, with a cast full of pint-size actors, Bittner says that these kids are the ones that are truly making him step up his game.
“Us, as the adult actors – the older actors in the show – we can’t phone it in. Otherwise [the kids] will make us look like fools,” says Bittner. “Because they don’t stop and they bring a thousand percent every, single time.”
The genuine love and hard work that these young actors have brought to the show, has given Bittner a newfound appreciation for the importance of this show. Though – unsurprisingly – he describes the musical as “very rock-n-roll” and “a thousand percent in your face the whole time,” Bittner believes that the greater take away from School of Rock is finding your own path and the joy in that exploration.
“There’s a lot of pressure for everyone to get it right the first time,” says Bittner. “I guess what we watch in this show is a whole bunch of people who are trying to get it right… And instead everyone finds a joyful alternate path in the exploration and in the failure and in just going all out and being themselves. And in that, they find this alternate path that is full of joy and full of life and just as good – if not better.”
If you go:
Rochester Broadway Theatre League, Inc. ©
885 East Main Street, Rochester, NY 14605
Phone: (585) 222-5000
Sep 30 – Oct 07, 2017
Tickets: On Sale Now
Price: $38.00 – $83.00