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How 'School of Rock' Changed My Life

Date: Nov 30, 2016

A teenager's personal connection to the musical


I am a 15-year-old "theatre geek" and I live in a suburb of Boston. I started performing on stage when I was eight years old, and I absolutely love it! I hope to do it professionally one day. I try to see all the touring productions I can and, of course, I watch a lot of clips of shows on YouTube. But because I do not live in New York City, traveling to see a Broadway show is not something I can do every day. It is a huge deal.

I love watching theatre almost as much as I love performing it. And when I went to see School of Rock on Broadway last winter, I was able to combine both of those experiences. At the time, I was part of the East Coast youth premiere of School of Rock with the Un-Common Theatre Company. Our troupe had applied for the performance rights as soon as they were available, which was even before the opening night on Broadway. Apparently that's really rare! I had never been in a premiere before, and I thought it was the coolest thing. One of our producers started tweeting the Broadway production about how excited we were, and they responded every time. So then our cast began tweeting @SoRmusical, too, and individual performers in the show started to answer us. The actress who played my counterpart on Broadway, Jaygee Macapugay, tweeted me twice! She got to pick her character’s name (which is why the teacher I played was called "Mrs. Macapugay"), and she told me that she was thrilled for her name to forever be in the show.

About a month into our rehearsals, my parents and I and some of the other families involved with the Un-Common production took a trip to New York City to see School of Rock on Broadway. Obviously, I already had a big connection to it along with high expectations. Alex Brightman, who usually plays the lead Dewey Finn, was out the day we saw it, but his understudy, Jonathan Wagner, was absolutely fantastic. He blew me away with all of his energy and talent. But the biggest surprise was that one of my costars' moms knew someone who worked on the show, so we were all able to go backstage.


It was my first time backstage at a Broadway show, and I will never forget it. We got a tour of all the sets and where all of the props go. We liked the way they hung their props up on the wall and could just pull them off when they needed them. We were even thinking of using that strategy at Un-Common. We bumped into the actor who plays one of Tomika's dads giving someone else a backstage tour and he was so nice. We also got to sing one of the numbers from the show on the stage! And then, to top it all off, right before we opened, we got a video from the whole Broadway cast telling us to break a leg and congratulating us. It was awesome.

Seeing the Broadway production was truly an inspiration to me and helped me in my performance. Almost everyone from my cast saw the show at some point, and so we all tried to do our best but with our own spin. The Broadway cast was so supportive and kind to our company. Being able to tweet back and forth with them and actually talk to some of them in person was amazing. The whole experience reminded me of why I got involved in theatre in the first place. Sure, I like being in the spotlight and I love showing off my hard work for everyone to enjoy and, hopefully, move them in some way. But the camaraderie of the community is what really keeps bringing me back. Those pros in School of Rock made this out-of-town, theatre-obsessed teen feel like a total Broadway insider. 

Is there a show you have a special personal connection to? Tell us in the comments.


Andi Stebbins is a high school sophomore who has been in more than 20 theatre productions and plans to perform in many more. Her favorite show is The Book of Mormon.

Photos courtesy of the author. Top image: Stebbins and some of her Un-Common Theatre Company castmates outside of School of Rock on Broadway.

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