Review of 'School of Rock: The Musical'

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Dewey Finn (David Fynn) is a failed unemployed rocker living with a friend of his from his earlier performing days Ned Schneebley (Oliver Jackson) who is now working as a substitute teacher and his somewhat uptight girlfriend Patty Di Marco (Preeya Kalidis). Under financial pressure Dewey accepts a position intended for Ned with the up-tight Horace Green prep school as a substitute. The principal of Horace Green is Rosalie Mullins (Florence Andrews) whose harsh and strict exterior suppresses a love of music and rock. While impersonating his roommate Dewey as a teacher soon learns the children in his class are musically talented so hatches a plan to form a group to perform at a forthcoming “Battle of the Bands”. While preparing for the show the children start to come out of their shell and thrive musically with Dewey's enthusiastic direction and in doing so discover more about themselves.

Based on the movie of the same name where Jack Black played Dewey School of Rock is a story of passion and personal awakening. Above all, it is a lot of fun. This production has some seriously talented children actually performing, as we are frequently reminded, their instruments live on stage. Not only are these children musical they are fantastic actors in their own rights. Their performances are polished and convincing as they show their characters transforming from repressed and protected to passionate and expressive artists. They genuinely seem to enjoy the music and performing. Their singing is as good as their instrumental work with various songs sending chills down the back of my spine - Beautiful. “If Only You Would Listen” is the critical song her which beautifully performed demonstrating the desire of these talented children to have their voices heard by their dismissive parents.

The talented child cast is backed up by an adult contingent that are similarly talented with David Fynn exuding an energy throughout, channelling his inner Jack Black. Jumping around the stage imparting those around him with his passion. Dewey is not a fantastic musician but rather a lover of rock music and in this Fynn plays the role perfectly - Not quite perfect but infectiously passionate. Another shout out is to Florence Andrews as the principle whose seemingly effortless singing is truly amazing both in operatic and classic genres.

The classical rock music is, of course, great and full of toe tapping numbers with the wonderful “Stick it to the Man” being the obvious theme. All are full of fun and vitality. The finale is a great expression of the spirit of the show with an amazing performance.

The live band supporting the show were obviously enthusiastic in their alcove on the right of the stage visibly rocking on throughout. The staging is simple with only a few pieces of scenery that is regularly moving on, off and around the stage by the performers. This all adds to the overwhelming energy of the show.

I have never seen the movie so was unclear what to expect but I found in the musical a story of passion and awakening but, above all, fun. The talented children blew me away as they headed up a very strong cast. The audience had a large number of children who, despite the 2 1/2 hour run time, stayed enraptured in the energy of the show.

As the song writer, Andrew Lloyd Webber has indicated he wishes to inspire talented children and I can't help thinking he really is but in doing so he is encouraging all of us to find our true passion and pursue it no matter what - Stick it to the Man!

Rating:

Review Date: 2017-02-03



New London Theatre

Location: London (England)

Address: 166 Drury Lane London WC2B 5PW ENGLAND

Public Transport: TUBE Holborn TUBE Covent Garden

Telephone: +44 (0) 844 412 4654

URL: http://www.reallyusefultheatres.co.uk/our-theatres/new-london

Located somewhat away from other west end theatres, the New London is currently owned by the “Really Useful Group” (notable founder, Andrew Lloyd Webber) and has, unsurprisingly, hosted a number of Webber musicals including Cats for 21 years. It is a monument to 60s architecture with a brutalist concrete interior.

Foyer

The entrance is on the street but the theatre itself is accessed on the first floor by a long escalator (and lift or staircase). The auditorium is not large with only the stalls and a single balcony (circle) with about five rows meaning that pretty much any seat provides a very good view of the stage - Even the stalls are somewhat raked so that your view is not obscured by a tall person sitting in front of you. The space is intimate with the whole place quite “flat” with the stage jutting out into the stalls. When War Horse played here in the round it was a perfect use of the stage.

Auditorium