In previews since Nov. 9, the Broadway musical adaptation of 2003 film School of Rock opens Sunday at the Winter Garden Theatre. It’s the first time mega-producer and songwriter Andrew Lloyd Webber has debuted one of his productions in New York.
New York Post theater critic Michael Riedel recently went on a walk with Webber through the theater district, alighting at one point in front of the Mark Hellinger Theatre, where as a co-songwriter in 1971, Webber watched the unfurlment of Jesus Chris Superstar:
“I really hated it,” Lloyd Webber says. “It was vulgar. The opening night was really rather miserable, one of the worst nights of my life. But I was only 23. I was just a very unhappy kid at the back of the theater.”
The musical, which was developed from the chart-busting rock album that made overnight songwriting stars of Lloyd Webber and [Tim] Rice, opened to mixed reviews and managed to run for a year and half. But it taught the young composer an important lesson: Control your show.
Gotham magazine’s Patrick Pacheco has a breezy Q&A with Webber as well. He asks a number of lively questions, including this one:
Does the producer Andrew Lloyd Webber beat up the composer Lloyd Webber?
Very frequently. I’m always thinking, Is this really good enough?
Meanwhile, one of the stars of the show – Grade 5 student Bobbi Mackenzie – recently chatted with Ebony magazine’s Alexandra Phanor-Faury. It all started for Mackenzie in 2012 when, at age 8, she sang the national anthem before a Portland Trailblazers game in Oregon. With Broadway always being the dream:
“When they told me I was going to be on Broadway, I just started screaming and crying. It’s a dream come true,” she says, adding that her father was also very emotional. “My dad was crying, but he said he was sweating.”
Being on Broadway calls for a very busy schedule for the fifth grader, who is balancing her career and school. “I wake up, go to my tutor, have rehearsal, have lunch and dinner with my dad, do the show, sign autographs, and then I crash! The cycle starts all over again the next day. I love it!”
The original cast recording album, recently teased by the Wall Street Journal, is out today.
P.S. Coincidentally, another Webber production makes its New York debut this month. On Dec. 13, the Louisiana-set musical Whistle Down the Wind will play for one night only at Feinstein’s/54 Below.