When I first heard that School of Rock was being turned into a musical I was sceptical to say the least. Friends suggested seeing it and I point blank refused. It was one of my all time favourite films and I refused to believe that it could possibly make a good musical. I could not have been more wrong.
- Type of Show: Musical Theatre
- Audience: I think this show is perfect for families, especially families with kids that are ‘too cool for musicals’ although as a warning it does contain a tiny sprinkling of bad language. Having said that though, I think anyone of any age would enjoy this show for a bit of light hearted fun. Its a very modern musical, so those expecting the classic ALW Phantom of the Opera style musical may get a surprise.
- Storyline: 10/10 – The same storyline as the film. Fun, engaging and inspirational.
- Soundtrack: 7/10 – Definitely a few songs that I would skip on the soundtrack but when watching the show they fit in well. I have to say the first couple of songs are a bit slow but as soon as the kids come out the show really gets going. I absolutely love “If only you would listen” and its reprise which is both moving and relatable. “Where did the Rock go?” falls a bit flat for me, a boring song thrown into a fast upbeat musical. Overall an upbeat, energetic and enjoyable score.
- Funny factor: 9/10 – Hilarious at times, had us all laughing out loud.
- Casting: 8/10 – Having seen both Dewey Finns and 2 out of 3 kids casts I have to say the casting is excellent for this show. The calibre of the kids is mostly incredible, some shone more than others for me; Eliza Cowdery, Agatha Meehan, Grace Schneider and Toby Lee were stand outs. Overall though, very impressed.
- Choreography: 6/10 – Incredibly well polished considering it is performed by 8-12 yr olds!!
- Set: 7/10 – A clever and effective set.
- Tickets: Ticket prices range from a very affordable £15 to over £100. The New London Theatre is in a league of its own as far as providing good views from all seats goes. I think you’d be hard pressed to find a seat with a really bad view. Having sat in the rear stalls and circle (both central) i’d definitely choose stalls over circle – I’ll talk more about these seats in a future post. This theatre does offer front row day seats for £20 and £10 student tickets for Wednesday Evening performances – absolute steals!
If you’ve seen the film you’ll know the story but for those who haven’t (why not, it’s great!?) here are the basics. Dewey Finn, a washed up wannabe rockstar, takes a job as a substitute teacher at the esteemed prep school Horace Green. He’s certainly not cut out for the job but one thing leads to another and he transforms his young class members into a fully fledged rock band in time for the Battle of Bands. Andrew Lloyd-Webber has masterfully revamped this much loved story with a brand new score that blends faultlessly with the original film soundtrack.
I must say that David Fynn gives a spectacular performance as Dewey, Jack Black’s shoes certainly aren’t easy to fill yet he does a stellar job. Having said that, don’t be disappointed if you arrive and see his alternate Gary Trainor on the cast list. Gary is certainly worthy of leading man status and put his own unique spin on the role. Florence andrews playing the role of Miss Mullins, the pompous head of Horace Green, reaches the highest of notes with ease and grace and Oliver Jackson wins the audience over as Ned, the timid pushover. As I’ve mentioned, the kids are incredibly talented – they play their own instruments live on stage so you really are watching an actual live kid rock band!
Special shout out to my friend, Emily, who encouraged me to see the show and subsequently fall in love with it having been so closed minded. The fact that I saw it twice in one week proves how wrong I was and I can guarantee that i’ll be back again soon. This show is just good light hearted fun, you’ll leave with a smile on your face. I highly recommend to anyone open to a modern twist on musical theatre.