New London Theatre, London
Immature, entertaining and energetic are probably the best words to sum up Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new musical, transferring from Broadway.
Based on the immensely popular film starring Jack Black, School of Rock is transformed into a fun and energetic musical which is almost in danger of having too much energy that it borders on frantic and trying to hard.
Dewey Finn is in a pretty desperate state of affairs. He has just been kicked out of his band and is in desperate need of money otherwise his best friend’s partner is going to kick him out for not paying his fair share of rent. But when an opportunity arrises for him to make some money by teaching what he doesn’t realise is how much his attitude towards life is going to change thanks to the class of children in his dubious care.
While the story takes a while develop, with opening scenes filled with immature bits of humour that become slightly tedious after a while – even if these moments reveal a lot about Dewey, what gradually makes you fall in love with this production is the way that it is shown that Dewey does in fact have a heart of gold and fully understands his students as seen in the parents evening scene.
Through his book, Julian Fellowes manages to place the children and their unconventional teacher at the heart of things, with only the occasional glimpse of their lives away from school that culminates in the beautiful song ‘If Only You Would Listen’ – with the children pleading for their parents to get to know them better by listening to them about their hopes. The way in which he captures the attention of the audience through the brilliant chemistry between Dewey Finn, means the audience is charmed and drawn into the story effectively.
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s score combined with the edgy and sharp lyrics by Glenn Slater mean that there are plenty of strong tunes that will get you rocking out in style. Particular highlights include ‘I’m Too Hot For You’ and ‘Stick it to the Man’ particularly capturing the nature of the musical. Combined with the energetic and contemporary choreography by Joann M Hunter, the energy and pace never lets up for a second and is at times in danger of becoming too frantic.
What can’t be denied is the stupendous talent that is on display here and thankfully Laurence Connor’s production really allows the younger members of the cast to shine most of all, their energy and enthusiasm throughout being a constant delight – but also seeing the way their characters develop in self-confidence is a pleasure to watch. David Fynn as Dewey is a perfect balance between occasionally vulgar and lazy, but by the end developed into a more responsible and affectionate character that the audience can root for. There is excellent support from Preeya Kalidas as the domineering Patty, Florence Andrews as the uptight Rosalie and Oliver Jackson as the slightly geeky but likeable Ned.
If at first it seems slightly over-the-top, School of Rock is a fun, vibrant and heartwarming show about sticking it to the man and a celebration of breaking the rules once in a while, told through the likeable and well formed characters the audience get to meet and know.
School of Rock the Musical is currently booking at the New London Theatre until the 12th February 2017. To book tickets visit: Ticketmaster.co.uk,Last Minute.com,Love Theatre.com, Theatre People.com , Theatre Tickets Direct.co.uk and UK Tickets.co.uk.