Kids of Rock, Real, in MPAC Production of “School of Rock,” June 3-5

by Alexis Aljazy

The theater world craves “triple threat” artists who combine the talents of an actor, singer and dancer.

in Morristown Mayo Center for the Performing Arts This weekend, cast members are adding a fourth label: The Musician.

Amelia Corcoran and Avril Kagan at MPAC’s ‘School of Rock’ rehearsal, May 2022. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

He said, “I learned the bass for the show.” Amelia Corcoran13, who plays Katie school of rockAnd the It is scheduled for four shows on June 3-5, 2022.

MPAC’s 8th Annual Community Musical Tracks Dewey Fenn, Wannabe Rock Star. Desperate for money, he pretends to be a substitute teacher at a middle school, as he tries to turn a group of good-natured worms into gangster battle rockers. His biggest obstacle: their parents, principal Rosalie Mullins.

Director Cathy Roy She said that she always wanted to perform this musical. Coming out of a two-year pandemic hiatus — when everyone missed out on live shows and being together — seemed like the perfect time.

“The transformative power of art is embodied in this production,” Roy said during last week’s rehearsal.

She added that it was a story about “how rock music can set you free.” Avril Kagan from mandham.

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Kagan, at 11 years old, is one of the youngest actors in school of rockwhich features a smaller and younger cast than previous MPAC productions such as fat And the hairspray. There is only one adult. Everyone else is between 9 and 18 years old.

Corcoran had an advantage when she picked up the bass for her role. The Morris Plains resident was already playing guitar.

“I was able to transfer my knowledge of guitar to bass so I can now play the same level of songs on guitar and bass,” she said.

Liam Houston practicing his music business, under the guidance of music director Charles Santoro, at the rehearsal of MPAC ‘School of Rock’, May 2022. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Ari Mandel14, of Warren, faced a different challenge: uneducated guitar. In real life, he has been playing the instrument since he was eight years old. On the show, he portrays Zack, who starts from scratch and becomes the lead guitarist for a middle school band.

“Once you learn something, you don’t know how to screw it up,” Ari said.

Liam Houston12, of Maurice Plains, also brought some chops to the role of Freddy, the drummer. Jake JaniceThe 13-year-old from West Milford, feels comfortable playing classical piano; He has to wrap his head around a rock ‘n’ roll keyboard to play Lawrence on the show.

“School of Rock” director Cathy Roy shares a laugh during an MPAC rehearsal, while waiting for Music Director Charles Santoro for the next issue, May 2022. Photo by Kevin Coughlin.

These young actors provide a lot of soundtracks.

“The orchestra does not play in scenes where children are playing,” Roy explained, which is why this play is rarely staged regionally.

According to the cast members, rehearsing several times a week since March has created a supportive family atmosphere. Many get to know their personalities closely.

The MPAC team from “School of Rock” prepares for rehearsals, May 2022. Photo by Alexis El Ghazi

Juliet Trumbulla Morristown High School senior who taught at MPAC’s School of Performing Arts for about seven years, served as Principal Mullins.

Juliette Trumbull (‘Rosali’) watching the rehearsal of MPAC ‘School of Rock’, May 2022. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

“She’s a giant geek, and so am I!” Trumbull, who should do a “full 180” in the second trimester, said Trumbull.

Kagan plays Summer, the band’s manager, whom she describes as a perfectionist.

“She doesn’t like change,” Kagan said. “I myself am a pretty perfectionist, so I can get into that. But I can also talk about the way it changes in the end. It’s more able to go with the tide and have fun.”

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When asked if he has his own band, guitarist Mandel exclaims, “This band!”

The feeling of the family is especially strong John Rodriguez, who plays Dewey.

The 38-year-old Teaneck was directed 20 years ago by Roy in Englewood at the Bergen Center for the Performing Arts, formerly the John Harms Theatre.

John Rodriguez (“Dewey Finn”) shares tips with Liam Houston and Ari Mandel at MPAC’s ‘School of Rock’ rehearsal, May 2022. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

After studying theater in college, his career included four years in Vegas productions Jersey Boys. Returning to the Garden State to settle down with his fiancée, Rodriguez is invited by Roy to work as an assistant director for Les Miserables at MPAC in 2015.

Now, Rodriguez is inheriting a role he’s famous for black jack In the movie 2003 Andrew Lloyd Webber School of Rock. He has to walk a fine line of blending his character with the characters that movie fans have come to expect.

“I like to pay tribute to the people who came before me. It’s what we do as actors. We share and build on each other, and learn from each other,” said Rodriguez, a guitarist since the age of 12.

He also teaches theater at North Star Academy in Newark. So he feels he has a lot in common with Dewey Finn.

“I fall in love with my children. I love working with them. Having been in my class, you are in my heart and in my family,” Rodriguez said. You are in the bandwhich is a signature number in School of rock.

John Rodriguez (“Dewey Finn”) puts a “roll” on “School of Rock”, at MPAC’s rehearsal, May 2022. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

He thinks most audiences can relate to his character as well.

“Anyone is a bad decision apart from being Dewey Fenn,” Rodriguez said.

The Mayo Performing Arts Center presents its annual spring music, school of rock With shows on Friday 3 June at 7:30 pm; Saturday 4 June at 2 PM and 7:30 PM; And Sunday, June 5 at 2 pm. Tickets: $20 – $35. At 100 South Street, Morristown, (973) 539-8008.

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