Sometimes it is the lot of the theatre reviewer to attend shows with difficult subjects; sometimes, though, a show comes by which is just plain FUN with a capital F.
That’s what you get with School of Rock. The music is by Andrew Lloyd Webber, and definitely harks back to the rocking beat of both Jesus Christ Superstar and Starlight Express. The lyrics are by Glenn Slater (co-writer of Sister Act).
The musical’s book is by Julian Fellowes, best known for TV period piece Downton Abbey. Largely based on the 2003 film, it delivers both laughs and a moral about parents and children, especially those in a position of privilege.
As failed rocker Dewey Finn (the tireless Jake Sharp, who is on-stage almost all the time) is booted from his band (cleverly aping Mötley Crüe), he takes an opportunity to impersonate his friend Ned (Matthew Rowland) and take up a substitute teaching job.
The stars of the show are the class children, who play their instruments live throughout – tonight we enjoyed Emerson Sutton, Ava Masters, Oliver Pearce, William Laborde and Devon Francis as the band, plus Kaylenn Aires Fonesca, Layla Pages, Souparnika Nair, Alex Shotton, Liza Dekalo, and Kyla Robinson.
You will laugh your socks off at this sharp and hilarious comedy. Rebecca Lock’s uptight Miss Mullins, principal at Horace Green, showcases her vocal range and has her own awakening thanks to a long buried music memory.
The choreography by Joann M Hunter, lighting by Natasha Katz, set and costumes by Anna Louizis, and sound design by Mick Potter, all deserve a mention as we follow the story through rock stage to school classroom, staff room and corridors, grimy club to the homes of the kids in the band.
School of Rock is a solid evening’s entertainment where you may well spot a couple of tomorrow’s stars. It runs at the New Wimbledon Theatre all week and then contimues its tour: tickets here.
Image credit: Paul Coltas