Billboard on Broadway Podcast: Joining The 'School of Rock' Band

School of Rock - The Musical.
Photo by Matthew Murphy

Zachary Zwelling (front, center), Justin Collette, Rachel Katzke, and Walden Sullivan in School of Rock - The Musical. 

School of Rock is best known as a beloved 2003 Richard Linklater film starring Jack Black as Dewey Finn, a Led Zeppelin-loving substitute teacher who gets the buttoned-up kids at a private elementary school to find their inner Robert Plants and, at the same time, discover the freeing power of music. Now, it's also a major Broadway show that proved Andrew Lloyd Webber -- of Cats and Phantom of the Opera fame -- could also totally rock out. Playing at Broadway's Winter Garden Theatre since late 2015 (and running through Jan. 20, 2019), the show has delighted audiences young and old, and critics, with its irrepressible energy, easy sense of humor and jaw-droppingly talented young cast of kids in "the band." Justin Collette, who plays Dewey, Levi Buksbazen, who plays drummer Freddy, and music supervisor Ethan Popp stopped by the Billboard on Broadway podcast recently to chat about what it takes to put a believable rock band on a Broadway stage.

In their chat with host Rebecca Milzoff, the trio talk about first wrapping their minds around Lloyd Webber taking on School of Rock. "I only knew him from Cats and Phantom, so I was like, wait -- he does rock?" Buksbazen recalls. But they soon began to see how the pairing made sense. "Andrew Lloyd Webber writes epic musicals and there's something so epic about [this show's] storytelling, about never giving up on one's dreams and chasing after the things you love," Popp says. "Though I was at first surprised at the choice of composer, it absolutely made sense."

"Phantom is kinda metal!" Collette adds. "When I saw Andrew Lloyd Webber was part of it, I was like, 'Well, if we're gonna go big, it might as well be the biggest thing in the world!'"  They recall first meeting the legendary composer, what it was like to come to Broadway from outside the musical theater world, how they create chemistry in the multi-generational band that plays live onstage each night, and why Billy Joel is an eternal inspiration--plus much more in this episode of Billboard on Broadway.


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