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Cheshire Academy’s Musical, “The School of Rock”

“There is no way you can stop the School of Rock!” That was literally what it felt like to see the recent musical production, The School of Rock. With over 60 students and 7 faculty members involved, it easily became one of the biggest productions at Cheshire Academy. Ms. Guarino, the Director of this show and the Academy’s theater program, admitted that it was not an easy job to coordinate so many people in the Black Box. In fact, they had to extend their back stage to the girls’ locker room downstairs, which shows how big the size of the group was.

Besides the sheer size of the production, the musical drama is complex due to its very nature of combining music and acting. Not only did the cast have to be fluent with their scripts to get in the characters, they also needed to familiarize themselves with the music, which was played live by the Pit Band. Yes, the high quality music was not from a recording. The entire soundtrack and a huge portion of the staged-performance were played live by the Pit. [check out the Broadway soundtrack of the School of Rock here]

Despite those difficulties, the result was a phenomenal success. Walking in the hallway right after the curtain call, I saw the excited faces of parents and their kids, who were all pumped by the show’s energy and chatting about the production. My roommate’s mom thought the show was so good that she decided to take her younger daughter to watch it for a second time.

The main plot of the play revolves around Dewey Finn, a dream-to-be Rock Star who pretended to be a substitute teacher under his friend’s name, Ned Schneebly, and worked in a prestigious middle school. Dewey realized the musical potential of the children in her class, and organized a student rock band to compete in the Battle of Rock. However, when the school’s paycheck came to his friend Ned’s house, Dewey had to make a decision of either telling everyone the truth and giving up her dream or continuing her passion. In either way, the unusual experience along the journey impacted those children’s lives forever.

Acting as Dewey, Lexi Williamson ’18 had to sing while jumping on and off the couch. She also had to learn how to play the electric guitar since she was originally a violin player. Yet in the show, Dewey was supposedly the teacher who taught Rock guitar to her student Zach, who was played by a brilliant guitar player in real life, James Kim ’17. “When I first read the script, I was shocked. How was I supposed to teach an amazing guitar player how to play guitar, when I could not even play the guitar myself!” said Lexi during our interview. The rehearsal brought the two friends even closer, and they helped each other throughout the journey. Indeed, getting to act with all her friends became Lexi’s favorite part of the play. It also helped her to relax and be completely dissolved in her character. She said, “sometimes you have to let loose and be crazy. That is a lesson I will remember until I die.”

In order to create a more effective way to present the fast-paced story line to the audience, the prop section also did some hard-core work for it. One of the creative inventions was the movable background wall composed of three large triangular sections, courtesy of Mr. Monahan and the maintenance department. Each side was covered for different scenes. When there was a scene change, (for example, when Dewey agreed to take the substitute job) the crew members rotated the triangles so that the background of the school would replace the ones for Dewey’s appartement in just a few seconds, saving a lot of precious time for the actual show. As one of the guitarists in the Pit, this means we didn’t need to repeat the transition music multiple times, which was really convenient. My personal thank you to Mr. Monahan.

Of course, this wonderful show would not be possible with everyone’s hard work. During the days of rehearsal, Ms. Guarino was often stressed with presentation of the show and how the stage coordinated with other factors such as lightings, the Pit Band, and backstage. With Ms. DiGiacomo directing and Mr. Trier as the Key (pun intended) player in the Pit, there was no doubt that the quality of the music would be amazing. Mrs. Monahan was always busy organizing the crews, making sure the transitions were as smooth as possible. A faculty member herself, Ms. Colbert was also a faculty member in the Play. Ms. Brown and Ms. Michaels taught the cast the dance moves. And finally, the students – cast, tech crew, stage crew, and the Pit – all did absolutely a fantastic job. To reference back to the School of Rock, the hard work during rehearsals was like the Climb to the Top of Mount Rock – not only was the final result a spectacle, the journey along the path also contained a ton of priceless experiences. Bravo, Cheshire Academy Varsity Players!

Here is the link to the recording of Cheshire Academy’s the School of Rock on Youtube: https://youtu.be/FBMqOJx7Y-8