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Monday, 27 February 2017

School of Rock is based on the popular 2003 Richard Linklater comedy (of the same name), which starred Jack Black as irresponsible rock enthusiast Dewy Finn, who, to cut a long story short, forms a rock band with some musically gifted school children. I was lucky enough to see Andrew Lloyd Webber's stage adaptation, created with Julian Fellowes (book), Glenn Slater (lyrics) and Laurence Connor (direction), after its huge success on Broadway sent it roaring across the pond to the New London Theatre.

The Cast

David Fynn takes on the role of hard-rock loving Dewy Finn, recreating the somewhat hard to follow Jack Black performance in the 2003 film, but he does not disappoint. Fynn provides a charismatic and energetic performance, which stays true to the nature of the well-known character, and it's clear he has a great relationship with the rest of the cast, as their on-stage chemistry is blinding. It's hard not to fall in love with Dewy Finn all over again after seeing Fynn in action.

Florence Andrews plays the proper (but closet Stevie Nicks fan) Miss Mullins, headmistress at Horace Green Prep, and plays the part incredibly well. She'll have you laughing at her character's uptight and strict exterior, and falling in love with the real Miss Mullins during her solo number Where Did the Rock Go? Andrews also showcases her own musical talent when performing Mozart's Queen of the Night, demonstrating her classic soprano skills as well as her ability to rock the stage just like the rest.

The real stars of the show, of course, are the three rotating casts of 10 to 13-year-olds who play Dewy Finn's band of classroom rock stars. The young talents are fabulous actors who don't seem at all fazed by the huge crowd of faces staring at them from the moment they set foot on the stage. Of course there were a few stumbles (and in some cases quite literally) during the performance, but that does not take away from the fact that these are a talented bunch of young actors - so chalk it up to inexperience. While the kids demonstrate their acting abilities throughout the performance, the most impressive thing is that they play their instruments live. This is not only highlighted at the beginning of the show in a message from Lloyd Webber, but also at the end of the performance where the orchestra visibly exit the orchestral pit and watch the final number from their balcony. I've been playing an instrument for twelve years, but I couldn't get up on that stage and own it the way this lot do.

The Story

The musical stays true to the story line of the film, with some *minor* tweaks, so fans of the film won't be disappointed or bored. For those of you who haven't seen the film (and by the way, you totally should), I'll outline it for you - but there will be spoilers here! It follows Dewy Finn, an irresponsible and hungover guitarist/aspiring rock god who gets kicked out of his band three weeks before the big Battle of the Bands. Unable to pay rent to his friend Ned Shneebly and Ned's girlfriend Patty Di Marco, Dewy impersonates Ned and gets a job as a substitute teacher at Horace Green Prep School. Dewy initially spends the start of the 'gig' (as he calls it) behaving badly and giving the students recess in place of class, but, after hearing his students' talent in music class, he converts them into rock loving rebels and forms a band with them to compete in the Battle of the Bands. Dewy gets found out during the parent-teacher night, however, and gets run out of the school. The students break out the following morning and surprise Dewy before competing in the battle, which the parents try to stop before realising how talented and happy their children are. The story ends with a traditional 'happy ending', with Dewy running an after school class for the band.

The Set

The set for the show ranged from dive bars, to Dewy's bedroom, to Dewy and Ned's living room, to Horace Green Prep (classrooms, hallways and staff room) and, of course, the Battle of the Bands venue. Transitions between the scenery were smooth, and often done as part of the scene, and I was rather impressed with the way they did this. A central circular panel on the stage slowly rotated at various parts of the performance, to show a character moving between places and to rotate a piece of scenery. One scene in which this part of the stage was used incredibly well was during If Only You Would Listen, which showed four students, in their respective households, attempting to talk to their parents but with their words ultimately falling upon deaf ears. The rotation of the stage piece moved a different character's life into the spotlight, and really brought something else to the performance.

Is It Worth It?

Despite a couple of disappointing reviews, School of Rock has received largely four star reviews (and has even had a few five star reviews too). It seems the majority of audiences love this feel-good but rebellious musical, and demand for tickets has lead to multiple booking extensions. The musical numbers work well to enhance the story, and are incredibly catchy and enjoyable (you'll definitely leave with a number or two stuck in you're head), and the overall atmosphere during the performance is electric. If you're looking for a good night out, enjoyable for all ages, School of Rock should definitely be on your list. You'll leave with a smile on your face, rock in your heart, and a desire to Stick it to the Man.

School of Rock is playing at the New London Theatre, 
with tickets available until 14th January 2018

Book your tickets here

6 comments on "SCHOOL OF ROCK - THE MUSICAL"
  1. Loved the film Scool of Rock and is the fav of my other half, skipped out the part with spoilers as we hope to see this soon! Glad you enjoyed it and hopefully we will too!

    Jessica & James |

    1. The bit with the spoilers shouldn't have ruined anything if you've seen the film, it was just the plot for that. I didn't include the tweaks they made for the musical :) if you enjoyed the film I'm sure you'll enjoy the musical too! Thanks for the comment xx

  2. This sounds so good! I was actually in New York when it was about to start and I would have love to have seen it but I'll definitely have to put it on my bucket list! I loved the film and we even did it at school for an end of year play


    1. I'm so jealous! Would loved to have done that as a school play! Hope you manage to see it at some point xx

  3. I loved the film and would love to see the musical! I've heard mixed reviews too but may have to get some tickets if it ever comes near to me after reading this! Brilliant review and I'm glad you enjoyed it!

    1. Thank you! If you loved the film I'd definitely recommend trying to get tickets!xx


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