For teenagers Sloane Griffith, Adrienne Morrow and Brady Davis, their summer plans — and their lives — were changed in an instant when their dreams to perform as part of the cast of School of Rock the Musical at Tuacahn were answered with four simple words: You’re in the band!
Despite how it appears when these talented-beyond-their-years cast members take the stage, Griffith has only been playing bass on and off for about two years. In a lot of ways, she leaned into the instrument with the hope that she would one day tackle this role.
“We really bring out the energy in each other…”
“I think playing an instrument is super important for musical theater,” Griffith says.
Her own musical theater career includes four seasons at Tuacahn where she played young Fiona in Shrek the Musical, as well as parts in Matilda, The Prince of Egypt and The Sound of Music. However, it wasn’t until she saw School of Rock on Broadway that she fell in love with the idea of rocking out with substitute teacher Dewey Finn as one of the on-stage musicians in the cast.
So it’s little wonder that she’s jumping for joy now that it’s here. Or is that just the caffeine kicking in?
Laughing, Griffith and her cast mates agree that although this is a high-energy show, there’s not much of a problem getting the cast pumped up. The real question, is do they ever calm down?
“We really bring out the energy in each other,” Morrow says.
Between the inside cast jokes and the off-stage Tik Tok sessions, this 14-year-old drummer from Los Angeles is thoroughly enjoying her time at Tuacahn.
Don’t worry, they’re not blasting out their vocal chords, Morrow says, just getting pumped up for the show.
And what exactly is on such a preshow playlist? Just some teenage tunes like ‘Singing in the Shower’ and ‘Raise Your Glass’ and stuff by Miley Cyrus, of course.
While the song selection may not be surprising, Morrow’s skills on the drums may be. In fact, she says some people may not be expecting a girl on drums at all.
“Freddy (Morrow’s on stage character) is usually a boy, but they changed it to a girl for me to play the role,” Morrow says. “I think it’s really cool to be unique — to be different than what people expect.”
No matter what people expect from a cast that includes 17 teenagers — four of who play their own instruments on stage — be prepared to have that expectation surpassed by a group of people with talent to spare.
Like Brady Davis, the 15-year-old guitarist from Las Vegas, who has been playing his instrument since age 5.
“I just got into it,” Davis says.
Davis’ early entrance into the world of professional music was helped by the fact that his mom is a professional violinist, so she knows the ins and outs of the musician world. But like several of his cast mates, it wasn’t until Davis saw School of Rock the Musical on Broadway that he wondered if maybe he could take his guitar playing to the theatrical stage.
Now he’s channeling his inner Jimi Hendrix and doing his best to model his inspiring guitar teachers.
“I always thought musical theater and playing guitar had to be separate things,” Davis says. “In this show, the instruments are on stage and we are playing them.”
* Cue all the emotions of a group of excited teenage actors. *
“People should come ready to rock!” Griffith says. “It’s almost like a concert, but also theater. I think it’s going to be good for everyone.”
Don’t miss your chance to experience all the energy, music and messages in this season’s School of Rock the Musical rotating with The Count of Monte Cristo and Disney’s Beauty and the Beast through Oct. 23 in the Tuacahn Amphitheatre. For more information log onto www.tuacahn.org or call 435-652-3300.
Set aside your preconceived notions of student band concerts and young musicians.