Brandon Niederauer shines in Broadway’s hit, School Of Rock—The Musical
School of Rock—The Musical lit up the Winter Garden Theatre on Dec. 6, 2015, and a mere six months later, has already received four Tony Award nominations including Best Musical and Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Alex Brightman as Dewey Finn).
With it came a talented cast of young starlets, including Brandon Niederauer, who plays Zack, one of several musically talented fifth-graders who form a band with wannabe rockstar Dewey, who poses as their new substitute teacher.
The Long Islander shares his passion for music, what it’s like to be on Broadway and what he sees in his future.
LIW: What has it been like to debut on Broadway?
Niederauer: It has been an unbelievable experience for me. Being in a Broadway musical, and an Andrew Lloyd Weber production no less, was not something that I ever thought was possible. I am very grateful to be part of this amazing show and to perform for a live audience of 1,500 people every night.
LIW: Why did you want to be a musician?
Niederauer: My father has been playing me music since I was born and I would always watch the guitar players in the bands. My dad bought me a guitar when I was seven, but I didn’t take it seriously. When I was eight, I started to work hard and it was a natural fit. When I took the stage for my first performance, I was hooked.
LIW: Did acting come naturally to you?
Niederauer: All I wanted to do was play music, so acting was not natural for me from the start. It took me some time in rehearsals to really get comfortable, but I had some amazing mentors including Andrew Lloyd Weber, director Lawrence Conner and Alan Greene, the actor who plays my father, that helped me understand the art of acting. Observing all of the professional actors in the show also helped, and Alex Brightman…it is an inspiration seeing him give it his all every night.
LIW: You are quite the guitar prodigy. How long have you played?
Niederauer: I started playing guitar at seven but I quit because I did not like the way I was being taught. When I was 8 ½, I saw the movie School of Rock and started playing on my own, learning songs from YouTube. Then my dad found me a teacher who taught me what I wanted to play and I’ve been playing a little over four years now.
LIW: Who are your top three musicians?
Niederauer: My favorite musicians are Derek Trucks, Warren Haynes and Miles Davis.
LIW: Why did you want to audition for School of Rock—The Musical?
Niederauer: Zack in the movie School of Rock was the reason I started playing guitar again. I thought it would be cool to play the part of the character that started it all for me. I was playing in Chicago and Los Angeles during the open call so I couldn’t attend the auditions, but I played guitar in the pit band at West Hollow Middle School and the music director sent a video of me playing to the casting company. We were in Chicago when my father got the call for me to audition and I nearly jumped out of the taxi. Three auditions later, I got the part.
LIW: What is the most fun part about playing Zack?
Niederauer: Bringing the story to life every night is amazing. The acting part is new for me, but I am confident and I love it, and I learn something every night. Most fun is the singing and playing the music live and bringing my character to life. I also play with amazing musicians who are my age.
LIW: Why should someone come see School of Rock—The Musical?
Niederauer: First, it’s a great story and a great show. It has something in it for everyone and it’s both a theater and concert experience. I hope if kids see us performing live that they will be motivated to play an instrument or learn how to sing. Music has made my life better and I hope it can do the same for others.
For more on Brandon Niederauer, visit www.brandonniederauer.com.