When Jack Black’s music-heavy film “School of Rock” was released, Mystic Inscho was negative six years old. That’s not actually how time and age works, but it is impressive to see that the nine-year-old is channeling rock star antics in his performances both on and off the theater stage.
Multi-instrumental, fluent in mandarin, (Inscho is half Chinese), Inscho has been on stage since the age of four.
In the show Inscho plays Zack, one of the lead child characters who plays the guitar.
The musical, like the film, revolves around a slacker musician turned music teacher at a prestigious school – by lying to get the job. At Horace Green Prep, Dewey Finn (Jack Black in the film) teaches his students to essentially break out of their molds and become a rag tag band.
Inscho recently answered some questions relating to his experiences and thoughts on the musical that has been described as one that portrays how music empowers children and adults.
Hi Mystic, I wanted to start off by learning a bit about yourself. What inspired you to get into acting and playing music?
Well I started playing piano when I was about five years old, and then I wanted to do more, so then I started dancing and then my mom, she wanted me to do more too so then I felt inspired to do other stuff, so she got me a mini guitar and then I didn’t particularly like it but then she sent me into a lesson and I played more. Then I got to really enjoy playing it [and] got a real look into it. Then I started playing drums and guitar, and here I am.
Do you prefer playing any one instrument? Are you more fond of guitars?
I like all of them. My favorite would be guitar, but I love all of them.
Could you tell me a little bit about what sort of music you compose? What sort of things are you writing about?
I write stuff about the tour, about different cities. I haven’t been doing that for a while, but I want to get back to it. So, I write stuff about travel days, I write about shows, how enthusiastic audiences are, all kinds of stuff.
When you became part of “School of Rock”, had you heard of it beforehand? Had you watched the movie it’s based on?
No I hadn’t watched the movie before but I [had] heard it was a movie, I heard it was a play, when I got the audition call I watched the Broadway version of it and it seemed really cool so I sent in a tape. After I got it, on a flight, since the planes have screens, I watched [the movie]. So, I watched the movie about halfway through the tour.
Do you think there’s a lot of differences you notice from the movie and the play?
There’s different music, there’s new songs, and there’s different people and [they] have different personalities so it changes up the show a lot.
Could you talk about your character of Zack in the show? What does he do and what is he like?
So, he is a boy whose very shutout by his dad because his dad is always working on his phone, calling people, telling them to do stuff, and his dad never has time for him. So, his dad sends him to Horace Green and he really feels left out. [But] when Dewey comes in, Dewey teaches [Zack] to really get out of his shell and stand up to his dad, and he just really rocks out in the end.
What is it like being on a stage in front of a large audience, acting and playing guitar?
If there was one word to describe it, I would describe it as fun, because I’ve been doing theater for half of my life and I’ve really enjoyed it. [Also] I’ve never gotten anything this big, so I was scared at first but then I kind of got used to it after five shows and then I started to like it. And it’s just fantastic.
Would you say you have a favorite moment in the show?
The moment would be [the songs] “You’re in the Band” or “Teacher’s Pet”. I like “Teacher’s Pet” because I get a solo in the end and it’s where they all play their instruments and show their parents they can play. [I like] “You’re in the Band” because it’s when they first learn that they can play their instruments and each kid has this sort of solo you could call it, even the ensemble, like Dewey says, “Who wants to be the roadie?” and someone says, “Me!” It’s just every kid gets their spotlight for a second.
When you’re preparing to go on stage what is your day like when it comes to practicing and getting ready for the shows?
So this is like my daily schedule most of the time: I’ll wake up in the morning, have breakfast, sometimes I go to school, I eat dinner or lunch, I come back, practice guitar, play some games or watch some TV, and then I just get ready for the show and there’s not a lot of time to explore stuff, but sometimes we have off days and some time to explore the city.
And do you have a favorite city you’ve traveled to on this tour?
It’s probably Ottawa, in Canada because we were finally out of the United States and we get to explore new cultures and stuff.
What do you like best about traveling and performing?
There’s a lot of things but my favorite is going around and exploring new cities. It’s fun so I see local attractions like the zoo, [or] like in Seattle we got to see the Space Needle. Also, in our free time, I get to hang out with the other kids and play with them and chat, and that’s fun.
And now my last question – if you wanted to recommend “School of Rock” how would you do so?
I would recommend it as good for kids, good for adults, good for everyone. Especially good for kids because it teaches them to get out of the show and if they want to do something, just go do it. Don’t be afraid of it, just go for it.