Raleigh Native Returns to perform at DPAC in ‘School of Rock’

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The cast of the “School of Rock” Tour
(Photo by Matthew Murphy)

Broadway legend Andrew Lloyd Webber’s high-octane Broadway and West End hit School of Rock – The Musical is coming to the Triangle, hitting the DPAC stage, November 28-December 3

Adapted from the popular 2003 Richard Linklater movie, “School of Rock”  tells the tale of Dewey Finn, a failed, wannabe rock star who after being kicked out of his band decides to earn a few extra bucks to pay his overdue rent by posing as a substitute teacher at a prestigious prep school. There he turns a class of straight-A students into a guitar-shredding, bass-slapping, mind-blowing rock band. While teaching these pintsized prodigies what it means to truly rock, Dewey falls for the school’s beautiful, but uptight headmistress, helping her rediscover the wild child within.

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Gilberto Moretti-Hamilton and Patrick Clanton in the “School of Rock” Tour 
(Photo by Matthew Murphy)

One fun fact about this show is that a Raleigh native is part of the cast. In advance of opening night next week, I had a chance to speak with Raleigh native and Elon University graduate Patrick Clanton about what it is like be a part of this hilarious and inspiring show and all the emotions involved of coming back to the Triangle and performing where he grew up.

You grew up in Raleigh. How does it feel to be returning to the Triangle to perform?
It is an amazing feeling. I have so many memories of going to see shows at the DPAC and sitting in the audience dreaming of being on stage. Sometimes when I spoke to people sitting next to me in the theater they would ask me what I wanted to do when I graduated, and I would say ‘Be an actor up on stage there’. I don’t know if they thought I was serious, but I was. To come back now and realize that dream and perform to a theater I used to sit in the audience at is an amazing feeling.

When did you know you wanted to be in theater?
I think ever since I was a little kid. I started acting around the age on 9. I took some theater classes around that time  and had my first lead role when I was in the 4th grade. Once that happened I think my parents saw how that was my path rather than the sports they had previously steered me towards. I was very lucky to have great programs in the Wake County School System and local theaters that helped support and grow my love for the arts and acting

How is the stage production different from the movie?
The movie was great and this production adds to that. A few things that you will notice is that there is a bit of a love story element added. But more importantly, the show will delve a little deeper into the characters played by the kids and there relationships with their parent. The movie focused mostly on Jack Black’s character, where in this show you get to learn more about the kids which is great because the are really incredible and honestly they are the reason to come and see the show.

What is it like playing three different characters in the production?
I actually almost didn’t audition for the show. I thought I was too young to play a parent of a 10 year old, but I decided to give it a shot anyway. Things worked out and after several call backs I was offered a spot in the ensemble and am fortunate to play three different characters actually. I play a science teacher who is dubious of Dewey and who he says he is. I also play the director of the Battle of the Bands competition and I play Mr. Hamilton, the father of one of the children in the band. My son is the drummer. It keeps me on my toes playing three different roles and experimenting in little ways to see how I can make each role my own and a little different each night.

Are you looking forward to anything special when you return to the Triangle?
Well it will be really wonderful to perform and know friends and family will be in the audience. And again to think back how I used to be sitting out there watching shows from a seat in the audience in that very theater.  I’m also excited to share some of the local food culture with my friends in the cast. You know I have to take them to Bojangles’ for some great biscuits! 

“School of Rock” has performances at DPAC Tuesday November 28th through Sunday, December 3rd. For tickets visit https://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/school-of-rock.

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