School of Rock has no right to be so entertaining. The musical is based off the 2003 film starring Jack Black, and is back with a vengeance, featuring music by the great Andrew Lloyd Webber. The musical follows Dewey Finn, a rocker turned unwitting schoolteacher who leads a bunch of privileged children with terrible relationships with their parents to victory in a rock competition through the power of music. Despite rehashing the film’s plot completely, School of Rock remains unbearably charming and worthy of a standing ovation.
I blame the kids for this. There’s been a throng of kids invading the West End recently in just about every show, from Matilda to Billy Elliot, and School of Rock just proves that children do have a place on stage. All the kids are insanely talented, playing their own instruments live and milking the audience for all it’s worth. Special mention goes out to Tom Absigold as Zack, who no doubt stole the show with his skills on the electric guitar and rockstar attitude, but really, every single member of the child cast deserves a shout out for a job well done and filling the theatre with raucous applause, cheers and heart.
Apart from the kids though, the adult cast hold their own. David Fynn takes the lead as rocker turned unwitting teacher Dewey Finn, and considering that he has such big shoes to fill, spiritually taking on the role originated by Jack Black, he manages to do a bang up job of playing the lovable manchild. It is Florence Andrews however, who shines brightest as stern headmistress Rosalie Mullins with a secret passion for singing. In the first instance of this, where Andrews launches into a rousing rendition of Queen of the Night from Mozart’s The Magic Flute, she’s revealed her vocal talent, and again later on in the most emotional number of the night “Where Did The Rock Go?”
Overall, being armed with the movie’s cult favourite status, all the musical potential in the world and one of the best composers behind its music, School of Rock has no worry about drawing in the crowds. But with its fantastic, electrifying and energetic cast, the musical is taken to new heights, and assures audiences that this is one underdog story you’ll be able to come back to again and again.
School of Rock plays at the New London Theatre. Tickets available till 12 February here