School of Rock (The Musical) Review


School of Rock (The Musical) Cast

Gary Trainor (Dewey Finn*), Florence Andrews (Rosalie Mullins), Preeya Kalidas (Patty Di Marco), Oliver Jackson (Ned Schneebly), Tom Abisgold (Zack*), Selma Hansen (Katie*), Jude Harper-Wrobel (Freddy*), James Lawson (Lawrence*), Eva Trodd (Summer*), Nicole Dube (Tomika*). More here.

*We had the pleasure of seeing the alternate Dewey Finn. There are three sets of the child cast.

School of Rock (The Musical) Synopsis

School of Rock follows the same trajectory as its film counterpart; a down and out, band-rejected musician (Dewey Finn) masquerades as a substitute teacher under his housemate's persona. In his commitment to entering Battle of the Bands, he transforms his class of compliant Horace Green students into 'The School of Rock'.

My Thoughts on School of Rock (The Musical)

Andrew Lloyd Webber and Julian Fellowes may seem like an odd duo to bring such a youth orientated, rock based film to life on stage but they've done a fantastic job at honouring the film's genius while enhancing it in all the right places. 

Lloyd Webber's score seamlessly integrates with the film's original music (which is honoured pretty much it its entirety). His high energy, rock based numbers 'You're in the Band' and 'Stick it to the Man' involving all of the child cast are the notable additions; but each of the core characters has been given musical moments in a nicely balanced, character driven way. Fellowes has managed to create a skillfully witty book that references the film without feeling like a carbon copy; my favourite moments being a joke about 'Memory' being sung at the New London and a hilarious scene involving all of the kids feigning illness. I was pleasantly surprised.

By delving into the back stories of the children more significantly than its film counterpart, the musical really comes into its own. We witness the different ways in which they are oppressed at the hands of their parents and prep school and how, via their roles within the band, Dewey's eruption onto the scene helps each of them find joy and freedom of expression. All of this provides a really quite moving undertone to the fun of the rock horns, bass faces and energetic jumping around.

While I'm finding it hard to find fault in this production I suppose it could be argued that things lag a little during the scenes involving the faculty members and Dewey's housemates (Ned and Patty). However, I would attest that that's only because the energy levels radiating towards the audience drop significantly when you haven't got a stage full of thirteen kids having the time of their lives!

Of course, Dewey Finn is the lead role in this production and it's a testing one at that! It's wildly energetic both physically and vocally but Gary Trainor (the alternate Dewey) delivered in both arenas at the performance I attended. He has a cuddly sort of lovableness that immediately puts you on his side. 

Significant credit must also be given to the child cast who are quadruple threats in every sense of the term. They play their own instruments, sing and dance at a level beyond their years and ultimately carry the narrative of the show with their individual, yet, cohesive portrayals. Seeing the glints in their eyes as they did so made me realise just how rewarding this experience must be for them and sure as hell made me want to be part of the band!

My Verdict on School of Rock (The Musical)

This is a musical with a great deal of heart that more than lives up to its source material. It's fantastic fun for all the family and has the innate ability to lift your spirits to astronomical heights - I'll be visiting the New London Theatre again very soon and I recommend that you do the same! I give School of Rock (The Musical) a rating of 4/5.

School of Rock the Musical is currently playing at the New London Theatre. More information here.

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