Tommy Ragen will always be able to tell people that he dropped out of school to attend the School of Rock.
  • Tommy Ragen will always be able to tell people that he dropped out of school to attend the School of Rock.
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Tommy Ragen has nothing against public school. In fact, he loved his last principal. “Miss Tripi was really nice to me,” says Ragen of La Jolla Elementary’s Donna Tripi.

“She was really supportive of Tommy and allowed him to spend time on his his music,” says dad Frank, whose son just turned ten.

But the pre-teen singer/guitarist/songwriter had to pull out of the public school system after third grade when his career started blowing up. Tommy was nine when he was tapped to be the understudy of Zack in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s touring production of School of Rock. Tommy says the production reached out to him. “There were thousands of kids who tried out,” says Tommy of his L.A. auditions.

From August of last year through March, Tommy and the School of Rock production toured the country, playing one-or two-week stints at Chicago, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Cincinnati, Houston, Austin, Oklahoma City, and other cities. He is being looked at to take over the main role of Zack in the next Broadway version, when the current actor leaves this summer. “I made some really good friends there,” says Tommy.

Tommy continues to be home schooled as he prepares to appear in an independent movie, Chasing, about a reincarnated rock star, which is set to begin filming this summer in Vancouver. The film is directed by Sean McNamara (Soul Surfer, A.N.T. Farm, That’s So Raven).


Tommy Ragen, "Tokyo"

The four-foot-eight performer with the plaintive voice likes to keep his chops up. He’s recently played at the Pour House bar in Oceanside and at a street fair in Encinitas. He appears Thursday, May 24 at Lestat’s West and Sunday, May 26 at Riffs Studio in La Jolla.

“It’s a difficult industry,” admits father Frank Ragen about children in show business. “Once they get cast, kids can lose the gig if they get too tall or their voice changes.”

Frank says his son has a New York-based theatrical agent and a Southern California-based manager.

Tommy says he knows what to avoid going forward. “If I wanted to fill my lungs with smoke, I’d stand over a BBQ all day,” jokes Tommy. “I’ve seen people use drugs, people in San Diego. Once they get addicted, their careers are over.”

“We try and make it fun for him when he’s on the road,” says the elder Ragen. “The hardest part for him is to not be around his older sister and younger brother. When they see each other after months, they hug and cry.”

Frank tries to make sure Tommy sets aside time to write songs. “‘What About Me’ was about kids at lunch who were mean to me so I wrote a song about it,” Tommy tells the Reader. “‘Tokyo’ is about a friend of ours who had a lot of issues with her family and had to leave home.”

Tommy wrote “Chasing” when he was eight. That song will be included in the soundtrack in the upcoming Sean McNamara-directed movie named for Tommy’s song. His album, Tommy Ragen 9, is available on CD Baby and iTunes.

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dwbat May 24, 2018 @ 11 a.m.

He's got the rock look and attitude, but he's very "pitchy" as they say. He needs a vocal coach to train him how to sing in tune. Right now he seems tone deaf.


enmaragen May 24, 2018 @ 2:52 p.m.

Cheers! You’ve achieved your highest point in life to be commenting on a ten year olds voice! Yes, he was on a broadway tour. And what have you done? You’ve spent your days on the San Diego Reader website posting hate towards little kids. And if you maybe had done research, you would have known that that video was taken over a year ago, and now he has a much better voice. Sincerely, A good person


dwbat May 24, 2018 @ 4:37 p.m.

That old video needs to be removed, if it doesn't show his current abilities. Whether a singer is 6, 12, 24, 37, 63 or 75, he/she needs to be able to sing well, on key, and rarely sharp or flat. It has nothing to do with "hate towards little kids." It's about professionalism. Some talented kids I've watched on "Little Big Shots" are younger than 9, and are far better singers than Tommy. So was the even-younger Shirley Temple.


rossburtness May 25, 2018 @ 8:42 a.m.

I have had the pleasure of attending many of Tommy's shows. He's does a great job entertaining! Over the past two years his growth as a musician has been impressive. To me being a musician is about writing, playing music and doing what you love. (more than a voice) Voices change and can be manipulated by digital but talent does not. I applaud the Tommy's family for supporting his dreams and I applaud Tommy for having the guts to follow his! I will look forward to his next show!



Ken Leighton May 25, 2018 @ 11:55 a.m.

Enmaragan....on what tweaker planet are you from? Where, at any time have I ever "posted hate against little kids?" I did not select that video. All I did was tell his father to send me a video we could use. He could not get it together by deadline and he knew it because I told him. That video that was used was pulled off the internet by my editor without malice. That video has since been taken off the website. As any reasonable person could tell, there was no hate or malice in the article.


dwbat May 25, 2018 @ 12:17 p.m.

I think that comment was directed at me, Ken. But I also haven't posted "hate against little kids" ever here. BTW, the new video is 100% better; he's in tune!


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