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"School of Rock" Strikes Its Last Power Chord This Weekend at Market House Theatre

 Market House Theatre presents "School of Rock" this Thursday, September 15th, through Sunday, September 18th.
Market House Theatre
Market House Theatre presents "School of Rock" this Thursday, September 15th, through Sunday, September 18th.

Paducah's Market House Theatre wraps up its two-weekend presentation of School of Rock, based on the 2003 film with Jack Black and Joan Cusack. Austin Carter speaks with MHT Executive Director Michael Cochran and cast member Jensen Knudsen ahead of the final shows.

School of Rock the Musical closely resembles the original film's storyline with added songs and stage adaptations by Andrew Lloyd Weber. "It's about an out-of-work musician who wants to compete in the battle of the bands," Cochran explains. "His dream is to be a rock and roll star. He's kind of mooching off his friend, Ned Schneebly, who's a school teacher. Ned gets an offer from a prestigious prep school to teach, and Dewey, the musician, steals the notice and shows up to the prep school to make some money and compete in the battle of the bands."

Dewey forms a band out of the kids he's teaching at the prep school, which lends itself to a large cast of adult and youth actors and multi-instrumentalists. "We have about 35 in the cast and about 50 people involved in the production itself," Cochran continues. "We held open auditions for actors to come, and if they could play the guitar, bass, drums, piano. We were looking for kids who could do all three: play an instrument, act, and sing."

There are three bands onstage at any given time during the production: the student band led by Dewey; No Vacancy, the band that kicks Dewey out at the show's beginning; and the production's pit band. "We have a lot of talent in the show," Cochran says.

Jensen Knudsen, a high school senior and Market House Theatre veteran, plays the role of Freddy, the strong-willed drummer of the band. Knudsen has been playing the drums for five years and has been in multiple MHT productions.

"There's something about getting to portray the story through song that is super enjoyable to the audience and getting to do it," Knudsen says. "Getting to dance and show all those different aspects on stage is really fun for me. I love getting to do that kind of stuff."

However, he did note that playing drums onstage added an element of difficulty to the show. "Working with a bunch of different directors trying to get the drums [ready], working around them, having to dance around the drums and then quickly run up there and go play something for a different song—that was definitely challenging. Not only learning the singing music but also learning the music that I had to play for the show was also a little challenging."

Cochran warns that "tickets are pretty tight. Some of the performances are pretty close to being sold out, so we are taking standby lists. We can usually get about six to 10 people in at performance time even if we're sold out because of people returning tickets. There are still chances to see it, but get your tickets fast."

Market House Theatre presents School of Rock this Thursday, September 15th, through Saturday, September 17th, at 7 pm and Sunday, September 18th, at 2:30 pm. This will be the final weekend of performances. You can buy tickets online or call the box office.

For more information on upcoming MHT events, including Downtown Historic Walking Ghost Tours, Misery, After Dark Lantern Tours in Oak Grove Cemetery, and MHT Playtime performances, visit the MHT website.

Austin Carter is a Murray State grad and has been involved with WKMS since he was in high school. Over the years he has been a producer for WKMS and has hosted several music shows, but now calls Morning Edition his home each weekday morning.
Melanie Davis-McAfee graduated from Murray State University in 2018 with a BA in Music Business. She has been working for WKMS as a Music and Operations Assistant since 2017. Melanie hosts the late-night alternative show Alien Lanes, Fridays at 11 pm with co-host Tim Peyton. She also produces Rick Nance's Kitchen Sink and Datebook and writes Sounds Good stories for the web.
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