Theater Review: We will rock you

The night finished with a successful rock show by the band, which brought the audience to their feet. By the time the number came to a close, no one was sitting.

An artistic projection of the future Tel Aviv Theater. (photo credit: Courtesy)
An artistic projection of the future Tel Aviv Theater.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
You may have smelt a dirty diaper from your seat, but School of Rock – the Musical (Rock B’bait Hasefer in Hebrew) certainly did not stink. Last Thursday, the house was packed with smiling parents and dancing toddlers – some of which took to the aisles to shake their little backsides. Performed in a new home, the Tel Aviv Theater hosted the show, having only opened months ago in early July with a NIS 1 million upgrade.
Previously staged in New York and London, the musical is based on the 2003 hit film directed by Richard Linklater and starring Jack Black, who plays Dewey Finn, a 30-year-old rocker who gets kicked out of his own band. Finn then takes on work as a substitute teacher and turns his class of middle school students into a bona fide rock band. All of this is done in secrecy, of course. The Hebrew version is directed by Elder Gohr Grossman with all the musical numbers translated (with some creative freedom) by Daniel Efrat.
It was a riot – even getting belly laughs from the older audience members. This makes sense – many of the jokes were a tad inappropriate for kids (as in the film,) but they certainly went over the heads of the little ones. The Hebrew translation was very close to the original script. Much of the humor included slapstick comedy – perfect for children – as well as one-liners and dialogue, which was funny for Israelis but clearly written by an American. Set changes for the show were seamless and the staging was simple but nicely done.
The ensemble surrounding famous Israeli actor, comedian and bandsman Tal Friedman, included a group of 24 extremely talented little kids. They played their instruments live, which is impressive and many of them had some serious pipes. This includes 13-year-old Liya Ellis who belted out a couple of show-stopping solos. Friedman, for his part, kept the show moving well and provided the majority of the jokes on stage. He was engaging and handled a blaring audio issue with professionalism. The actors had to take a five-minute break and return to the stage once the sound was back on.
The song that stole the night was “Yalla Balagan,” not just because it was well executed on stage, but because the whole theater was singing along during the number and continued to repeat the lyrics as they exited the theater to go home. “Yalla Balagan” is the Hebrew version of the original score called “Stick it to the Man.”
The little rockers did an excellent job on stage. Curly-haired Tsuf More played the keyboard like a pro and Noya Geva swung her long ponytail around with major attitude. While most kids were enjoying the days off for Sukkot, these budding stars were banging out three performances a day. Their dedication showed.
The night finished with a successful rock show by the band, which brought the audience to their feet. By the time the number came to a close, no one was sitting. The show would be an excellent way to introduce your child to the theater and is sure to be a fun activity. School of Rock– the Musical, will tour around the country through Hanukkah and is returning to Tel Aviv to the Mann Auditorium.


Tags musical