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School of Rock

School of Rock
Peoria Players Theatre
October 7 - 9 & 13 - 15
By Bryan Blanks

The second show of Peoria Players’ 98th mainstage season kicks off with a cast full of students from almost every public and private school in the area. It is very rare for a community theatre production to produce a show that recently opened on Broadway, not to mention to have a cast consisting only of students ages 18 and younger. However, with Peoria's growing population of young performers, Peoria Players wanted to take the opportunity to dedicate an entire two-weekend production that would showcase this talent. This production may consist of a young cast, but thanks to a number of generous sponsors, Peoria Players will be pulling out all of the stops for this show, including lights and sound equipment that will be rented to turn the theatre into a true rock’n’roll venue.

Co-directors Dedra Kaiser and Bryan Blanks both spend their lives promoting, teaching, and directing kids and young adults within the performing arts. Bryan Blanks stated, "Budgets and music programs are being slashed and limited across the state of Illinois, but that is not stopping Peoria." When you take a look at our area schools and performance studios, many of their music and theatre programs are thriving despite the budgetary constraints they are faced with every day. "Peoria has a lot to be proud of, and our youth educational opportunities within the performing arts is something that should be shouted and celebrated from the mountain tops."

Dedra Kaiser added, "Hundreds of students poured through the hallways during auditions from schools all around Peoria, and we were thrilled to select 60 talented kids and young adults to tell this story." School of Rock follows the 1997 Jack Black film very closely with some added songs by Andrew Lloyd Webber to keep the energy moving right along. "It's a story about the power of music in the classroom, but told in a fun, unconventional way." The main character Dewey, a rock star wannabe, winds up substitute teaching at a prep school for kids. He knows nothing about teaching or kids, but uses rock music as a measure to reach and motivate these students, many with little self-worth or confidence. Dewey quickly learns that by inspiring these kids through music, he starts to learn about himself along the way.

Like the original film version, the kids in School of Rock are actually playing the instruments on stage. Ben Ferro from Pekin School District plays the guitar. Lindsay Ropp from Tremont Elementary plays the bass. Sam Lin from District 150 (Washington gifted) plays the keyboard, and Adam Sanders from Norwood Elementary rocks out on the drums. "These students playing on stage will knock the audience out of their seats and is testimony to the strong music programs they attend." We also have young musicians playing guitar and bass in our pit along with musical educators playing with them, including our music director, Holly Haines. The entire backstage crew and team consists of kids, young adults, or adults who are educators by day.

Tickets are available by calling 309-688-4473 or online at  The cost is just $19 for adults and $12 for patrons 20 and younger. Performances include October 7, 8, 13, 14 and 15 at 7:30 pm and October 9 and 16 at 2:00 pm.

Posted on October 3, 2016