Dewey Finn has touched us all!
School of Rock - The Musical
Newcastle Theatre Royal
Until Saturday 2 April 2022
School of Rock - The Musical, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s smash hit, award-winning West End show has landed at Newcastle Theatre Royal this week.
The show begins with a message from Andrew Lloyd Webber himself as he points out that the children on stage will be playing live. There is no denying that the kids are very talented and are worth seeing the show for. However, there is more to this comedic rock musical that probably has more appeal than the 2003 film on which it is based.
The show starts with Dewey Finn (Jake Sharp) trying to overshadow his bandmates in No Vacancy as they perform a gig. This results in Dewey getting kicked out of the band. Matters get worse as his flat mates Patti (Nadia Violet Johnson) and Ned Schneebly (Matthew Rowland) want the rent money that they are owed. As luck has it, Dewey gets a call from Mrs Mullins (Rebecca Lock) who is Principal at a top school and she is hoping Ned is available to be a substitute teacher at her school. Upon discovering how much the pay is Dewey decides to pretend to be Ned and take on the job himself.
The trouble is that a slacker's lifestyle does not prepare you for an ambitious class who plan to head to Ivy League universities - or as Mrs Mullins puts it "Harvard, or at worst Cornell. The kids are not impress with the idea of permanent recess. Fortunately, upon hearing the kids in a music lesson, he hatches a plan to enter the battle of the bands with a band made up of the class that he is in chare of.
Thus the wheels are in motion for a quite a few laughs and some great musical highlights too. Whilst this is a show with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Glenn Slater it doesn't follow the pattern of many musicals. The big "I want" number comes from the kids much later in the first act. If Only You Would Listen helps put the children's position into context and ensure that the audience is rooting for the outrageously talented bunch.
I'm sure that every reviewer that sees this show will mention the two massive strengths of the show. The young musicians are, first and foremost, fabulous. From the pouting faced bass player through to the quick fingered rock guitarist they are superb. Unfortunately, the programme lists a huge pool of talent and I didn't catch the kids names at the end. But the standing ovation at the end is really well deserved.
The other big positive is the comedy - which centres around a very physical performance from Jake Sharp as Dewey. The Theatre Royal audience were suitable vocal in their disgust as he wiped his body over a towel only to use a child to hang his towel on. We are also given a hint of the adult talent too when Rebecca Lock sings Where Did The Rock Go?
The theatre was full of a wide spectrum of audience members. It was brilliant to see that some schools had run trips to the theatre and that their students were getting a chance to see high quality live theatre. This is an experience that will stick with them. The adults will enjoy this show too as it manages the difficult job of entertaining a wide range of ages. Julian Fellows has written a script that does not overload the exposition. Director Laurence Connor ensures a rapid pace to keep the audience interested and so the just over 2 hours, plus interval, show quickly passes.
So did the kids make it to the Battle of the Bands and learn to "stick it to the man"? You've have to see for yourselves!
Review: Stephen Oliver
Photos: Paul Coltas
School of Rock plays at Newcastle Theatre Royal from Monday 28 March – Saturday 2 April 2022. Tickets are priced from £20.00 and can be purchased at www.theatreroyal.co.uk or from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 0191 232 7010.