Uplifting and exhilarating, School of Rock The Musical has opened at the New London Theatre to wide acclaim. Performances have left critics cheering and fans stamping and applauding the cast – which includes 13 super-talented children aged between 9 and 13.
The production, directed by Laurence Connor, has been called by the Independent a “quirky hoot with a heart, a fable about the empowering force of music that crackles with mischief and sly irreverence”. The Guardian said it was “Andrew Lloyd Webber’s most exuberant show in years”.
Supported by Bruno Wang Productions, School of Rock the Musical is based on the classic 2003 movie School of Rock which was written by Mike White and starred the ebullient Jack Black as the wannabe rocker Dewey Finn. Reprising Black’s role on the stage is no mean feat, but David Fynn, who starred in the US sitcom Undateable, handles the part with verve.
Finn is the fake teacher who is horrified at being given charge of a class of straight-A students at Horace Green Preparatory School, and subverts their education from Latin and Greek to Deep Purple and Iron Maiden. He is challenged by the seemingly straight-laced Ms Rosalie Mullins (played by Florence Andrews with humour and pathos) who is won over through her secret passion for Fleetwood Mac.
But while Fynn and his fellow adult actors handle the main roles with authority, the real stars are the child performers who dominate the show, playing all their own instruments (as a pre-recorded Andrew Lloyd Webber tells the auditorium before the show begins).
Whether they are speaking lines written by Downton Abbey’s Julian Fellowes, or performing to sing-along hits like Stick it to the Man or the title song School of Rock, the children take the audience all the way to Dewey Finn’s dream destination: the top of Mount Rock.