In the words of Jack Black:
WHAT AN EXPERIENCE! I have never seen anything quite as remarkable as the School of Rock on stage. I absolutely love the 2003 film and I truly thought nothing could do it justice until I saw this production.
Confession time: I was a little sceptical of seeing School of Rock beforehand for two reasons. A) Children in musicals, for me, isn’t really my thaaaaaang. But woe behold, I will never be saying that again. These children were INSANE! B) Andrew Lloyd Webber is a true musical genius. Some of my favourite musicals has his name stamped against them (namely Phantom of the Opera and Evita), however these musicals are hugely traditional with its music to reflect the style. School of Rock is massively contemporary and a whole new genre of music. Will the fusion work? And again, I hold my hands up and admit to how wrong I was. This musical is one of the best productions I’ve ever seen.
For those of you not familiar with this masterpiece, School of Rock follows an aspiring ‘rockstar’ Dewey Finn whose life tumbles in a downwards spiral after being kicked out of his band (just a matter of weeks before the Battle of the Bands, too! What an outrage!) and he is in desperate need of money otherwise his ‘under the thumb’ best friend’s partner will kick him out of their shared apartment. He poses as a substitute teacher at a prestigious school where he enlists the musical talents of the students to form a rockband to enter the Battle of Bands. The musical adaptation stayed extremely loyal to the film.
I sat in the stalls on Row O, Seat 54. New London Theatre is rather quaint and I’m certain most central seats would offer a great view. I’d avoid sitting too far left/right as the seats follow the stage around and there would be a slight restriction to the view. For £55, Row O delivered an amazing view… and that’s coming from someone who is a ‘front-row-self-confessed-theatre-snob’.
The show opens with Theo, the lead of ‘No Vacancy’, singing I’m Too Hot For You. Cameron Sharp, who I had previously seen in the ensemble of Jesus Christ Superstar at the Open Air Theatre, strutted the stage with his rock star swagger making an enjoyable performance. From this point, I knew we were in for a treat with this show.
David Fynn exerted so much energy in his performance as Dewey Finn. (Currently having a little chuckle because they practically share the same surname)! I can imagine how difficult it must be to play Dewey Finn without playing Jack Black as Dewey Finn. David Fynn put his stamp on to the role and delivered a captivating and charismatic performance bordering between vulgarness and being a likeable rogue.
Florence Andrews gave a remarkable performance as Rosalie Mullins, the Stevie Nicks loving principle of Horace Green. Her vocals are truly outstanding, particularly excelling in ‘Where Did the Rock Go?’. I also enjoyed the transition between pretentious principle and suppressed soprano – it was wonderfully executed.
Ned Schneebly was played by the understudy Andrew Spillet. He delivered some of the comedic highlights; such as the Guitar Hero scene. You never would have doubted that he wasn’t a principle in this role. Preeya Kalidas as Patty di Marco portrayed the nagging girlfriend well, though she sometimes bordered on annoying which is obviously the purpose of the role.
And as for the children, I’ve never been so inspired by 10 year olds before. Oh my goodness, I felt so much pride for these children as if they were my own. Eliza Cowdery who played Katie had an attitude bigger than her. She was extremely sassy and played the bass unbelievably well. Toby Lee who played the guitar player Zack showcased skills better than any adult guitar player I’ve seen. Agatha Meehan as Summer displayed such confidence that it was difficult to fathom that she is only a child.
I left the theatre feeling extremely uplifted and inspired. You have to see this masterpiece. Stick it to the Man!