• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

'School of Rock' coming to Woodford Theatre this weekend

'SCHOOL OF ROCK' will come to the Woodford Theatre for three performances beginning Friday, June 24, at 7:30 p.m. From left are Vivien Kurtz, Sophie Hill, Will Shivley, Kyle Reed, Bella Mancuso, Jaid Goh and Annie Harris during a recent rehearsal of the stage musical. (Photo by Bob Vlach)

Bringing "School of Rock" to the Woodford Theatre allows Summer Academy students to do a musical that's being performed on Broadway. Besides having that "unheard of opportunity," education director Vanessa Becker Weig said, performing in the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical has also challenged her Summer Academy students. They will sing and play instruments during performances on Woodford Theatre's stage this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. "You can really rock-out to what's happening onstage," warned Vivien Kurtz, who portrays Billie Sandford. Becker Weig credits professional musician and guitarist Luke Jackson for helping her student-musicians learn the songs in "School of Rock" over the last couple of weeks. And he was surprised to hear his young musicians playing one of those songs without instruction after only a few days with him. "It's kind of cool for them to be a little bit more on the music side because then it helps you think a lot - here's how the music is interacting with the vocals," explained Jackson before adding, "They also sound really good, so that's a plus." Hunter Story describes the songs in "School of Rock," a musical based on a 2003 movie starring Jack Black, as an opportunity for actors to explore characters through the music. "I personally listen to rock-and-roll so I really appreciate the different styles of music," added Emily Reed. And Jaid Goh, who portrays Shonelle, says the upcoming performances of "School of Rock" are a chance "to take a new spin on the Broadway show." Kennedy Kruse plays Principal Rosalie Mullins so she's faced with the challenge of being a soon-to-be high school freshman portraying an adult character. Bella Wolfe has tackled similar challenges while playing a character (Patty Di Marco) disliked by many. "You have to embrace your character, which is really hard, but at the same time it's really fun," explained Bella. She hopes audiences will say, "She did a really good job of making me hate her," after seeing a "School of Rock" performance. The musical is being produced by the Woodford Theatre Summer Academy, a three-week theater education program for students 10 to 18 years old. "There's a lot of pressure in (putting together a musical in three weeks), but it's also a lot of fun and I look forward to coming in every day of the week because it's a great, big family," said Ally Van Haaran. She joined 30 other students at Woodford Theatre this summer. Performances of "School of Rock: The Musical" on Friday, June 24, and Saturday, June 25, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, June 26, at 2 p.m., will be their final curtains as a company of young thespians. "School of Rock" tickets - $15 for adults and $8 for students - are available at woodfordtheatre.com online or the box office before performances.

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