School of Rock jettisoned Jack Black’s film career in 2003. Can anyone top his performance as Dewey Finn? I hear that Alex Brightman slays it, throwing himself into the highly physical part and losing one or two pounds per show. We saw his understudy, Jonathan Wagner, who comes very close to Jack Black and even looks like him. NYC students will especially appreciate the saga of parents pressuring kids to get good grades and kids wanting to explore private artistic passions. In a kids-to-parents song “If Only You Would Listen” substitute teacher Dewey asks, “What makes you more angry than anything else in the world?” Katie (Evie Dolan, age 11) answers, “Being over scheduled.” The dialogue could be way wittier, but perhaps Andrew Lloyd Webber and Julian Fellowes are the perfect team for serviceable children’s musicals. “Stick It to the Man” and “You’re In the Band” were a lot alike, but Arden, our young critic, rocked out to both. Spencer Moses is delightful as Dewey’s best bud, Ned. A shout out to young back-up singer Carly Gendell, with her groovy dance moves—it’s no surprise that she’s played Annie. Parents be warned: the music is loud all the way through. Children in the cast bop, stomp, and punch energetically—and yes, they really do play their own instruments.
Steak and sushi are on the lunch and dinner menus at Tender Bar and Grill in the Sanctuary Hotel near the theatre district in midtown. The tangy, wild ginger-edamame appetizer was a winner, but the flatbread pizza was unremarkable. Atlantic salmon burger was our favorite on the 3-course, $29 pre-matinee prix fixe. Tender is a sports bar with giant screens, exposed brick walls and teal blue leather banquettes, with pop music (but the volume is kept low) and kid-friendly. Arden raved about the steak.