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Alex Brightman School of Rock

A Broadway Star’s Classic Rock Playlist

School of Rock lead Alex Brightman shares a few of his favorite songs

When you think of a hit Broadway musical, rock ‘n’ roll might not be the first thing that comes to mind. But that’s changing thanks in large part to School of Rock: The Musical, the just-opened Andrew Lloyd Weber show (based on the 2003 film) that’s equal parts hard rock and razzle-dazzle. Like any great musical outfit, School of Rock—which follows a group of private school kids as they form a band and find themselves—relies on a great leader. In this case, it’s actor Alex Brightman as Dewey Finn, a ne’er-do-well guitarist and dreamer who ends up leading the students and giving them a very unexpected education. Here, Brightman shares a selection of his own favorite songs—and there’s not a show tune among them. 

“Thunderstruck” by AC/DC

“It’s my ‘get up and go’ jam. From start to finish, it is a blood-pumping, fist-pounding joyride of a song. I would give anything to go back in time and be there the moment this song was written. I’m a huge AC/DC fan, more now after boning up on some of their lesser-known material.”

“Dude Looks Like a Lady” by Aerosmith

“There is something so catchy to this song and the guitar lick is instantly recognizable. A lot of people know this song from Mrs. Doubtfire, but I knew it long before that. My mom raised me on Aerosmith, and she also used to babysit Liv Tyler.” 

“I Believe In A Thing Called Love” by The Darkness

“Even though this doesn’t technically qualify as classic rock, it is most certainly in the style and vein of classic rock. This band is so cheeky and wonderful. The guitar solo on this track is so joyous and wonderful. And, holy crap, the vocals.”

Tommy by The Who

“I count this entire album as one big classic rock song. This album (and Broadway show for that matter) shaped my musical tastes and made me the rock performer I am today. Really any song by The Who makes this list, but I’m trying to vary it up. OK… maybe one more.”

“Who Are You?” by The Who

“Even though most people know this because of CSI, I have loved this song and so many others for years. There is just something in Roger Daltry’s voice that is almost like an exorcism of the lyrics. It explodes out of him. He is one of those performers that just has it. I don’t know what it is, but he has it.”

“Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses

“Talk about another very famous guitar lick that you can spot in a couple of notes. This is a good karaoke jam that I like to sing every once in a while. But I could never do it as Axl Rose, the rock serpent of his time. I loved a time where songs didn’t have to be two-and-a-half minutes long and they could just really play until they were done.”

“Nothin’ But a Good Time” by Poison

“This is my all-time favorite karaoke jam. I sing this literally every single time I’m at karaoke. I was sort of known for it at The Watering Hole on East 19th Street and Park Avenue here in New York City. If this song doesn’t get you on your feet, then you need to check your feet for problems. I miss old Bret Michaels.”

“Limelight” by RUSH

“It took me forever to figure out the changing time signatures of this beast of a song, but when I did, it has become a staple on my ‘walk around the city’ playlist. If you ever see me walking with a smile on my face, I’m probably listening to this song. If you see me walking in different time signatures, it’s definitely this song.” 

“The Chain” by Fleetwood Mac

 “I was in an a cappella group in college and we learned this song. It’s so deep and wonderful and meaningful and it pops into my head more times than I care to admit. I’m sure there’s a YouTube video of us—The N’Harmonics—singing it somewhere.” 

“Walk On The Wild Side” by Lou Reed

“There is a great part in School of Rock: The Musical where I get to tip my cap to this song. And it’s one of my favorite parts of the show. It’s such a good and weird story song and I dig the lyrics. Doo do-doo do-doo do-doo-doo doooooooo.” 

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