Nevada Union Theatrical Society takes on ‘School Of Rock, The Musical’ |

Nevada Union Theatrical Society takes on ‘School Of Rock, The Musical’

Hollie Grimaldi Flores
Special to Prospector
Dewey Finn teaches the kids to "Stick It To The Man!" Pictured (left to right): Lucy Gardiner, Skylee Moore, Leah Brown, Darrian Collins, Shelby Figueroa,Toby Farwell, Celeste Hawkins, Weston Griffith, Bailey Trent, and Hannah Deane.
Photo by Karen Busse

WHAT: Nevada Union Theatrical Society presents “School of Rock, The Musical”

WHERE: Don Baggett Theater at Nevada Union High School, 11645 Ridge Road, Grass Valley

WHEN: January 31st, February 1st and 2nd, and February 7th-9th

TICKETS: $12 advance sale tickets can be purchased online by visiting $15 door tickets can be purchased on each performance night beginning at 5:45pm.

CAST INFO: January 31st, February 1st, 2nd includes: Orion Molaro as Dewey Finn, Amber Busse as Rosalie Mullins, Morgan Rumpler as Ned Schneebly, Lucy Gardiner as Patty Di Marco, & Alia Rice as Tomika.

February 7th, 8th, 9th includes: Tobias Farwell as Dewey Finn, Emily Fitzpatrick as Rosalie Mullins, Seanan Maher as Ned Schneebly, Azure Bleau as Patty Di Marco, & Bailey Trent as Tomika.

For over twenty years, Rob Metcalfe has been teaching drama to high school students. Since 2003, he has been theatrical instructor at Nevada Union High School.

Each year he selects a production that will give his students the opportunity to highlight their collective talent for the community. Metcalfe said several factors go into deciding what production will be a good fit. This year, Metcalfe settled on the musical “School of Rock, The Musical,” a comedy based on the Jack Black film of the same name.

“Obviously, I have to love it when I read it,” he said, “then I have to find out if it’s appropriate for high school students, and then I have to look at casting for it. Do I have enough boys? The size of the cast, set difficulty and costume difficulty plays into it and then how popular will it be?“

“The honest truth “ he continued, “is we have to sell tickets, because we don’t get money from the school or the district for putting on plays which means if we don’t sell a show well and we spend a lot of money putting it on, the next show won’t have any money to spend.

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“We have been fortunate that the community really supports us, and we have been able to keep our budget in a stable position that gives us the ability to put on big plays. ‘Grease,’ for example, cost $8,000 just for the rights. We do have to sell those tickets. So, name recognition in the title is really important. There is the business end, the talent end, and practicality.”

Andrew Lloyd Webber created new music to bring “School of Rock, The Musical” to the stage. Metcalfe said Webber took the movie and brought it to Broadway because he has such a love for the music and the arts in grade school and high school.

“This is a great vehicle to promote the arts in schools,” said Metcalfe. “It is so rare to see a Broadway production before it has finished the national tour, but Webber decided to release the rights early– with some specific requirements.”

One of the contractual requirements, for example, is that no one over the age of 18 can be on stage and all members in the on-stage band must actually play their instruments.

As stated in a press release, “‘School of Rock’ is a two-hour, two-act musical, based on the hit movie starring Jack Black. The tuner follows Dewey Finn, a failed, wannabe rock star who decides to earn an extra bit of cash by posing as a substitute teacher at a prestigious prep school. There he turns a class of straight–A pupils into a guitar-shredding, bass-slapping, mind-blowing rock band. But can he get them to the Battle of the Bands without their parents and the school’s head mistress finding out? ‘School of Rock,’ with its sensational live kids’ rock band, is a loving testimony to the transforming power of music. May the spirit of rock be with those who pledge allegiance to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s newest hit.”

At Nevada Union, the theatre program competes with art, music, dance, and other electives to get students to fill the classrooms. Metcalfe’s program is popular, in part, because it gives kids who may not fit in anywhere else, a place to call home.

Nevada Union senior and student director Lauren Yantis said of the program, “It creates a sense of community and family away from home. I have the biggest support system and even those in my class I’m not that close to, I still consider them family.”

Cast member and choreographer Darrian Collins, echoes that sentiment.

“In the drama department, I get another family,” said Collins. “We are all really close to each other. It is a fun place to be. It’s accepting and not judgmental in any way. The people in theatre (are) a different breed. We are tightly knit, and it is our own little world whenever we are all together in the theater. It’s really amazing to be a part of.”

Toby Farwell plays the lead Dewey Finn.

“Drama is a home away from home,” Farwell said. “It is one of my favorite places to be. It gives you a really comfortable place to explore the art of acting and theatre. It’s a really great place to be.”

Farwell had to learn to play guitar for the part, a sign of his dedication to the role.

“For these kids, sometimes I wonder why they do it,” Metcalfe admitted. “It is not easy. It takes a tremendous amount of courage and I thank them for being the kind of kids that want a challenge because there are not a lot of kids like that. These kids have so much more courage and work ethic and personality. They are all hams, but we need those types of kids.”

Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire. She can be reached at

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