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A CurtainUp London Review
School of Rock
"Stick it to the Man!" — Dewey
School of Rock
Cast in School of Rock (Photo: Tristram Kenton)
Before it starts, a voice says this is the question everybody asks, "Do the kids really play their own instruments live?" The answer of course is an astonishing "Yes!" but then if they did not, the question would never have been broadcast! The children are such stars, small bundles of musical talent and heart warming acting who give this rock musical a real wow factor.

Based on the Jack Black movie of the same name, School of Rock has new music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and a book by Julian Fellowes, the scriptwriter of Downton Abbey who shows his versatility of style. Glenn Slater completes the creative trio as lyricist. The anti-hero is Dewey Finn (David Fynn) an overweight rocker, deeply in debt and living with his ex band member, the geeky supply teacher, Ned Schneebly (Oliver Jackson). Schneebly's girlfriend is Patty Di Marco (Preeya Kalidas) the nearest this show gets to a villain who is pressing for Dewey to pay some rent.

As you will see from Elyse Sommer's review in new York go here Dewey impersonates temporary teacher Schneebly at a private school run by Miss Mullins (Florence Andrews). Instead of conventional classes, he forms the children into a rock band to compete in the "Band of Bands" competition.

The strength of School of Rock is the children. Lois Jenkins is Katie, the cutie who plays the Gilbson bass guitar, Tom Abisgold as Lead guitarist Zack, and future heart throb and Nicole Dube as Tomika who is most emphatically not a backing singer but a lead. Eva Trodd plays Summer, the complex, clever girl who ends up managing the band and whose rendition of "Memory", in the New London where Lloyd Webber's Cats played for so many years, makes Dewey say, "I never want to hear that song in this building again."

The show is ideal for the whole family but it lacks a really dark side which, for instance, Matilda has. This is touched on when we see these high achieving children with their aspiring but emotionally closed parents and the repressed Miss Mullins find her rock side after her rendition of Mozart's "Queen of the Night". While there is much clowning from David Fynn as Dewey, there is also little by way of exciting choreography.

The link above to the review last year in New York gives a full song list and much more plot detail.

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School of Rock
Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Book by Julian Fellowes
Lyrics by Glenn Slater
Based on the Paramount film by Mike White
Directed by Laurence Connor
Starring: David Fynn, Florence Andrews, Oliver Jackson, Gary Trainor, Preeya Kalidas, Eva Trodd, Nicole Dube, Tom Abisgold, Lois Jenkins,
With: Jonathan Bourne, Charlotte Bradford, Nadeem Crowe, Cellen Chugg Jones, Jason Denton, Michelle Francis, Rosanna Hyland, Cassandra McCowan, Joel Montague, Alfie Parker, Andy Rees, Cameron Sharp, Tasha Sheridan, Andrew Spillett, Lucy Vandi
Children: Joshua Vaughan, Jude Harper-Wrobel, Denzel Eboji, James Lawson, Madeleine Haynes, Presley Charman, Harry Egerton, Shoshana Ezequiel, Mia Roberts, Ian MacNeil, Selma Hansen
Designer: Anna Loizos
Sound Design: Mick Potter
Lighting Design: Natasha Katz
Musical Director: Matt Smith
Musical Supervisor: John Rigby
Choreographed by Joann M Hunter
Running time: Two hours 30 minutes with an interval
Box Office: 0844 811 0052
Booking to 9th April 2017
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 16th November 2016 performance at The New London Theatre, Drury Lane, London WC2B 5PW (Tube: Holborn, Covent Garden)
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