‘School Of Rock’ Broadway Tour Features One Of Utah’s Own
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – There’s a whole lot of rockin’ going on at the Eccles Theatre this week as “School of Rock, the Musical” hits the stage.
The show is so popular because of the amazingly talented musicians — who are children. And one of them in the touring company is a young man from Draper.
“I’ve got so much inside,” Blake Ryan sang, “if only you would listen!”
Blake Ryan, who is 12, played the guitar while singing one of his favorite songs from the show. He says music has always flowed through his home. His dad plays guitar, his mom is a dancer and he and his older brother, Kellen, just loved instruments.
“One Christmas, our grandma got us a little, tiny keyboard and my brother just had a cheap guitar,” Blake said. “And that’s where it all started.”
It wasn’t long before the two created Broband. Blake was 8 and Kellen was 11 when they started playing gigs in Park City.
Then their parents took them on the road, where they saw the movie, “School of Rock.”
“This is the craziest thing,” Blake said. “We saw the movie and the next day we were like, that was our inspiration and that’s what started it all: ‘School of Rock. And now I’m here!”
The Broadway show and touring company follow the same storyline – a rock singer/musician, played by Jack Black in the film, pretends to be a substitute teacher at a prep school. He soon gathers his fifth grade musicians in hopes of winning the Battle of the Bands contest.
Blake auditioned for, and got the part of, Zach in the show in a regional production here in Utah. He sent an audition tape of himself in that show to the Broadway producers. They invited him to New York City.
He soon found himself performing for a musical legend and not even worrying about getting the part.
“To have Andrew Lloyd Webber even consider me, that was like, I don’t care, I don’t care, that was amazing!” Blake exclaimed.
Webber chose Blake.
“We got a contract on a Tuesday, had to sign it on a Thursday,” he said. “We were on a flight by Saturday and on Monday, we were on the tour!”
When he says “we,” he means his family. His parents tag team each other every month, going on the road with Blake. They make sure their sons Blake and his brother and best friend, Kellen, are together at least one weekend a month.
Over the last year, what has been the most rewarding is meeting other young people at the stage door.
“It feels really good,” Blake said. “Another kid tells you, ‘You were amazing!’ and they want to do what you were doing.”
In this show, you have to be versatile — and that he is. Blake sings, dances and plays instruments.
“So, I play five,” he said. “I play the harmonica, the guitar, the drums, the ukulele and the piano.”
And then he switched to the electric guitar and filled the Eccles lobby with more music from the show.
After touring the country, “School of Rock” has brought Blake home. His grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends will finally see him “rock on” this weekend. And Blake plans to do more performing into the future, even as the tour soon comes to an end.
“School of Rock” performances continue at the Eccles Theater in downtown Salt Lake through Sunday, June 2.
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