Gillian Lynne Theatre, London
School of Rock is one of those cult films that is genuinely wonderful. Funny, sweet and a crowd pleaser, the 2003 Jack Black hit transfers well to the stage and provides an entertaining night out for all ages.
The musical follows Dewey Finn (Craig Gallivan) a wannabe rockstar, who’s been kicked out of his band and somewhat accidentally becomes a substitute teacher for a prestigious prep school. Struggling to teach anything, he soon realises he can connect with the children through music and opens their eyes to the one subject he’s well versed in: Rock!
From here on in music making and mischief ensue with the children sneaking around behind their prim principle Rosalie Mullins (Laura Tebbutt) and covering their tracks from their parents as they attempt to win the Battle of the Bands contest.
As Dewey, Gallivan fantastically helms the somewhat formulaic musical; with an undeniable magnetism that does Jack Black proud whilst bringing his own spin on the larger than life rocker. Barely leaving the stage, Gallivan’s portrayal is energetic and hugely memorable and he provides face-melting singing as well as a marvellously humorous performance.
As cliched as the character is, Tebbutt brings Mozart singing Rosalie Mullins to life in a delightfully charming and comic way. Her characterisation is very well developed and her vocal performance is a diamond moment in the show. Tebbutt’s solo number ‘Where Did the Rock Go?’ is a plaintive ballad performed with pipes of steel and a real oomph.
Though well performed, the prologue of the show before the children begin performing does feel over extended and it takes some time for the musical to really perk up. However, when the young actor-musicians take the stage, the Gillian Lynne Theatre comes alive with unrivalled talents. Ensemble numbers School of Rock and Stick It to the Man are particular stand outs.
The Horace Green students are a live in person advert for talent as they rock out on stage with the skill you’d expect of those much their senior. Will Tarpey is a complete stand out as the band’s stylist Billy. Emoting every second and earning laughs from the audience left, right and centre he is a real superstar who knows how to own and work a stage.
Amelie Green is witty as stuck-up Summer and Caspar Lloyd is wonderful as Lawrence. Nayan Gupta is completely fantastic when he showcases his superb musical talents as Freddy. Special mention must go to Jasper Bew who is out of this world as Zack, giving a performance to rival most adults and completely rocking the stage.
There are lulling moments in this production but it does manage to capture the heartwarming nature and humour that we all love from the film. As well as being a fun night out, School of Rock highlights the importance and power of music and is sure to bring a smile to your face and a tap to your toes.
Book tickets from School of Rock from www.londonboxoffice.co.uk