When Simon Newkirk realized he was given a part in Dublin Scioto High School's production of "School of Rock," he said he was in disbelief.

The 9-year-old fourth-grader from Chapman Elementary School said he sat in his bedroom and mulled over the fact that he was the one selected for one of only five roles open to elementary and middle school students throughout the Dublin City School District.

On Feb. 24, Newkirk will join the rest of the cast of "School of Rock" in their first of four shows. The production will not only feature the acting talent of young students, but also showcase their musical skill.

Newkirk, who has the role of Lawrence, will play a keyboard.

He has played the instrument for about three-and-a-half years.

He said his enjoyment of playing music, along with his love for the "School of Rock" movie, motivated him to audition.

"It sounded like a lot of fun," Newkirk said.

A love of music and song was also motivation for Kaylee Wenzel, a Chapman fifth-grader, to audition.

Wenzel, 11, had just started playing the cello, and said she was surprised she got the part of Katie.

She plays bass in the show, and was able to easily adapt to a new instrument.

The bass is just like playing a cello turned on its side, Wenzel said.

Some of the kids in the production picked up instruments just for their roles, said Jonah Gilbert, a 10th-grader at Scioto who plays guitar teacher Dewey.

Gilbert, 15, said he enjoys working with the younger students who regularly make him laugh.

"They're a blast 100 percent of the time," he said.

Gilbert has played guitar since January and started practicing specifically for his role.

"I wanted to learn guitar a long time before this, but I just never got around to it," he said.

Gilbert had primarily been involved in orchestra band prior to trying out theater, which he said he wanted to do because his parents were thespians when they were younger.

His other main role was in the production, "Into the Woods."

"I felt like it'd be cool to try it out," he said.

In the orchestraGilbert plays tuba and the ability to read music made learning guitar easier, he said.

While some of his mannerisms for his role come from actor Jack Black's movie performance as Dewey, Gilbert said he incorporates some of his own ideas.

To get into his role, Gilbert said he sometimes talks to himself as his character.

"He's just spontaneous and off the wall most of the time," Gilbert said of Dewey.

In the show, Dewey is a rock star without a band, who fakes his way into being a teacher, said stage manager Mary Johnston, a 16-year-old junior at Scioto.

Dewey takes his students under his wing and teaches them rock 'n' roll doesn't require perfection.

"You can play it and have fun," Johnston said.

In addition to students who sing and play their respective instruments, an orchestra will also provide musical accompaniment, she said.

"It's funny, and it's got a great storyline," she said.

"School of Rock" will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 24, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Feb. 25 and 2 p.m. Feb. 26 at the Marina Davis Performing Arts Center in Dublin Scioto High School.

Ticket information can be found online at dublinsciototheatre.org.

ssole@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSarah