New London Theatre – 24 October 2016
I was lucky enough to be at the first preview for School of Rock on Monday. Lord Lloyd-Webber himself welcomed us to the theatre along with Director Laurence Connor.
The show is quite simply fantastic. Based on the film of the same name starring Jack Black. This as had an element of a make over with Lloyd-Webber providing new music and Downton creator Julian Fellows providing the book. If you ever dreamed of a Phantom of the Opera/Downton Abbey collaboration School of Rock would not be what you would imagine. But the collaboration works incredibly well – providing us with what is sure to be a long running hit musical.
Led by the hilarious David Fynn in the role as Dewey Finn (with Gary Trainor Sharing the role) in a star-making performance, the show knows full well that its prime asset is the cast of ridiculously talented children. The children are universally adorable and staggeringly accomplished musicians. It is an absolute treat to hear them. With 39 children sharing the 13 roles.
Storywise Dewey has managed to freeload for years off his gangly best buddy and former goth-rock bandmate Ned Schneebly (Oliver Jackson). But Spencer’s shrewish girlfriend Patty (Preeya Kalidas) lays down the law, telling Dewey to start paying rent or move out. An opportunity to make an easy buck occurs when he picks up a phone call intended for Ned, with an offer of well-paid substitute-teaching work at an elite prep school. After improbably passing inspection with starchy principal Rosalie Mullins (Florence Andrews), Dewey then declares permanent recess for his class. When he stumbles by a music class and observes the kids’ skilled musicianship, he cooks up an instant plan to make them over from classical geeks into rebel rockers and enter them in the Battle of the Bands.
This show as it all – comedy, pathos, heartwarming moments and oodles and oodles of talent. The songs get in your head and I’m still humming them now.
If the first preview is anything to go by, then this is a show that will hang around for a good while yet – which is good as I can’t wait to get back to London to see it again