Thursday, 19 January 2017

School of Rock | New London Theatre

I couldn't have chosen a better show to kick off my 2017! School of Rock opened on Broadway in 2015 and was nominated for four Tony Awards before making the transfer to the West End in October 2016. Being honest, when I first read that Andrew Lloyd-Webber was adapting School of Rock into a musical I was sceptical but the buzz surrounding the show has been amazing so I had to find out for myself what the fuss was about. I adored the show from the second it began and it exceeded all my expectations.

I saw Gary Trainor in the role of Dewy Finn who is actually the alternate, although it wasn't until I was reading up on the show after the performance that I found this out. He grabbed my attention from the opening scene with bundles of energy and enthusiasm that he kept up throughout the show. The role is a highly comedic one, not only with almost every line getting a laugh but Trainor's physical comedy too had me laughing aloud. Florence Jenkins as Rosalie Mullins was also superb and very believable as the school's strict but music-loving headteacher and she really got to show off her vocal range in this role. As the cast is quite large I won't name everyone here but I have to make the point of saying how impressive it is for each actor to play several roles during one performance. They did so very convincingly and it actually took me a while to realise that the parents, teachers and rock band were the adult cast members doubling up on and sometimes tripling their roles.

Obviously the show wouldn't exist without the amazingly talented children. The kids play their instruments live and knowing which makes the show even more enjoyable. They also all have brilliant voices and very tight characterisation throughout. The enthusiasm and energy on stage was such a joy to watch and it makes me very proud to see young people with such talent and passion for musical theatre working so hard and so brilliantly.

The show features 14 original songs as well as the songs from the movie itself. I don't know why I ever thought that School of Rock wouldn't work as a musical - the songs fitted so seamlessly into the story and it just seemed to make sense. I found myself humming the songs as I was leaving the theatre and even listened to the soundtrack on my way home. There is a real mixture of  big showstopping numbers along with some more gentle but powerful songs too which worked really nicely.

This post probably seems super gushy but I honestly don't have a single bad word to say about the production. The set, which featured a revolve, moved seamlessly around the actors and the costumes and lighting were also memorable. Even the curtain call was exciting and entertaining with the big hits from the show being sung. If you're planning a theatre trip soon but don't know what to see I would really recommend this one. It's loud, lively and I promise you'll leave the theatre smiling. Check out the School of Rock website for tickets and more details.

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