By Michelle Kinsey, for Muncie Civic Theatre—
MUNCIE – Take notes, class. There will be a quiz at the end of this article.
Today’s lesson is about “School of Rock,” a musical opening this week at Muncie Civic Theatre.
“School of Rock” is about struggling musician Dewey Finn, who needs cash and poses as a substitute teacher at a prestigious prep school. Dewey decides to ditch the curriculum and start a band with his students, convincing them to trade their pencils for drumsticks and calculators for keyboards.
The musical, created by Andrew Lloyd Webber, is based on the 2003 Richard Linklater film starring Jack Black as Dewey.
Self-proclaimed Comedy Rock Geek Mikey Mason is taking on the gig as lead vocalist/substitute teacher in the Muncie Civic production.
“Everybody bugged me to audition,” Mason said. “They said I was perfect for the role. I hope they meant that I’d bring a Jack Black-style energy, talent, and contagious enthusiasm to the role, and not that I’m a self-absorbed, socially awkward man child with questionable ethical boundaries, like Dewey.”
Michael O’Hara, the show’s director and Ball State University theater professor, confirmed that Mason is “literally perfect for the role.”
This will be Mason’s first Civic show, and actually his “first theatrical role in 30-plus years.” “I haven’t performed in theater since I graduated from Ball State University in 1998,” he said.
But the rock thing? He’s been doing that for decades.
“I’ve been singing and playing in bands since middle school and performing music and comedy most of my life,” he said. “I was one of the first-performing cast members of Ball State’s premiere improv comedy troupe, Absolunacy [now Abso], and have been performing as a full time, traveling comedian/musician since 2008. I retired from standup comedy in 2019, but still travel and perform as a musician and entertainer.”
Mason approached the band in the show as any legit musician would.
“We got permission from the directors and their parents to have band practices, so we could bond as a band – the only way to learn how to be in a band is to be in a band – and they all took their roles as a band member seriously and worked hard,” Mason said.
He said the band members/young actors “have such incredible energy and continually impress me.”
Ditto for O’Hara.
“We’ve been lucky to discover authentic talent among the kids who auditioned, and yes, they really play the instruments!” he said.
Mason said he wants audiences to “feel the magic of rock” at the show. “And also get a sense of what having a human connection with others can do for someone’s life,” he added. “The show is, in large part, about making those connections, about feeling isolated and alone, and how making a positive relationship with even a single person can change your life for the better and give you a sense of belonging and security.”
OK, as promised, here’s the quiz:
True or false: “School of Rock” at Muncie Civic Theatre will rock your socks right off.
“School of Rock” will take the stage April 28-30 and May 5-7, 12-14 and 18-21. Shows on Thursday, Friday, and will begin at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees will begin at 2:30 p.m. Rated PG.
Get your tickets today by calling (765) 288-PLAY or go to www.munciecivic.org.
Show made possible through support by: Dennis, Wenger, and Abrell: Attorneys-at-law, Boyce Systems, Thrive Credit Union, Wilhoite Family Dental, Rivers Bullock Heating and Cooling, MITS Bus, Starocket Media, Warner Supply, and 93.5 MAX FM.
Extra Credit: Mikey Mason’s first book, “Confessions of a Geek Bard,” will be released June 2 by Falstaff Books. Mason has also been recording at least one song a week since September 23, 2019, for New Music Mondays on his Patreon account. His current total is 220 songs in the 187 weeks he’s been doing it. (That doesn’t count the nearly 200 or so songs he wrote before then.) He writes songs of all types and styles – rock, country, folk, blues, even a hip-hop song – but many of his supporters prefer the geeky material (songs about science fiction, fantasy, roleplaying and video games, etc…) or the funny songs or both.