School of Rock is Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical that is based on the Jack Black movie of the same name. We meet Dewey Finn who, despite just being kicked out of the band that he created, is determined to win Battle of the Bands. At the same time he is struggling to pay his rent so when his housemate gets offered a role as a substitute teacher at the prestigious Horace Green he snaps up the role without telling him. He soon realises that the children are all talented musicians so he sets about turning them into a rock band, unbeknownst to their parents or the headteacher.
This musical is a musical that works well on so many levels. The plot itself is not only a really fun plot which develops at a lovely pace but there is also lots of witty, relevant commentary including jokes about tick tock and another about the gender pay gap. On top of all of this it also has lots of character development, not only for Dewy but also for many of the supporting characters, we see Rosalie Mullins, the headteacher able to loosen up under Dewey’s influence, we see Ned Scheebly able to finally stand up to his girlfriend, Patty and that is before we even look at the children themselves that Dewey teachers. Tanisha, literally finds her voice, Lawrence learns that he can be cool and Zach learns to loosen up and all of their parents discover depths to their children they didn’t know existed. By the end of the show you find yourself really caring not only for the lead character but for many of the supporting roles.
Part of the success in getting you to care for these characters is due to the talent of the actors portraying them. Leading the band was Jake Sharp as Dewey Finn. Sharp struck the balance of Dewey Finn perfectly, he managed to gross the audience out with sweaty towels and belly button fluff consumption but at the same time has the audience rooting for him, especially as it becomes clear that he begins to care for the children in his class. Sharp’s energy was incredible and despite him barely sitting still when he was on stage his strong rock vocals never faltered.
The children in this show are astounding. They not only sing, perform choreographed routines and bring constant character to the stage but many of them play live throughout the show. Emerson Sut holdington who played Freddy last night looked like he was born drumsticks and the amount of energy that Ava Masters brought to the stage as Katie was wonderful to watch. Souparnika Nair played Tomika, the girl who finds her voice during the show and wow when she found it the audience really sat up and listened.
Rebecca Lock played the formidable Rosalie Mullins who really got to show off her vocal range from the classical ‘Queen of the Night’ through to the musical theater style rock ballad, ‘Where Did The Rock Go?’ this show demonstrates that you would struggle to find anything that Lock can’t sing! Matthew Rowland as Ned Schneebly was brilliantly geeky as Dewey’s long suffering best friend and the perfect contrast to the ferocious Nadia Violet Johnson as Patty Di Marco.
The highlights of the show are always when the children and Dewey are rocking out on the stage together, from ‘Stick it to the Man’ and ‘School of Rock’ you can’t help but want to get up and rock out with the cast . Finishing the show with these numbers back to back is the perfect end to School of Rock. It leaves the audience grinning from ear to ear and wishing that they had just tried a little bit harder to practice that instrument when they were younger.
School of Rock is on at New Wimbledon Theater until 26th March. To find out more about School of Rock including where else it is on tour you can visit their website.
If you like this review you might also like my review for Waitress, 9 to 5 and Grease.