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Theatre Review: School of Rock The Musical - New London Theatre ✭✭✭✭

School of Rock - The Musical
Photo by Tristram Kenton
New London Theatre

Review by Emma Curry

16th November 2016: It’s hard to believe that it’s 13 years since the original School of Rock film came out. Starring Jack Black as struggling musician Dewey Finn, who takes on work as a substitute teacher and encourages his new students to enter Battle of the Bands, the film was a huge success at the time, boasting numerous catchy songs and a hugely talented cast of young stars.

The quality of the music in the original film and the upbeat, feel-good nature of the story mean that it’s a natural fit for a stage musical, and this show boasts a particularly stellar line-up of talent, with Andrew Lloyd Webber writing the music and Julian Fellowes (of Downton Abbey fame) on the book. The script draws upon the original film, whilst adding a sprinkling of witty topical references and developing a larger role for Miss Mullins (Florence Andrews), the principal of the school, including a possible romance between her and Dewey (David Fynn).

Lloyd Webber’s music is a real strength of the show: the songs spool out of the action neatly and are spectacularly staged and performed. Whilst the show includes some of the original songs from the film, there is also a wealth of new numbers, including the ear-wormingly catchy ‘Stick it to the Man’, which makes up the show’s rousing finale. 

Photo by Tristram Kenton


The show also benefits from a stellar cast, including a truly inspirationally talented group of children. On the evening I watched, Tom Abisgold demonstrated himself to be, as Dewey observes, a ‘young Jimi Hendrix’ with his amazing guitar-playing skills, James Lawson displayed some brilliant comic timing as the shy, geeky Lawrence, and Lois Jenkins was hilarious as Katie, confidently wielding a bass guitar almost as big as she was. But the show belongs to David Fynn as Dewey: he storms his way across the stage in each big number and brings a phenomenal amount of energy to proceedings, single-handedly bringing the audience into the story with his likeability and enthusiasm. He also has a fantastic and very sweet rapport with the young cast, and steps back to let them take the lead at the show’s key moments.

Whilst at times the show feels a little longer than it needs to be (there are some extended scenes in the teachers’ staffroom that could have been cut, for example), there’s very little else to dislike here: the story is unapologetically big-hearted and joyful, and its message of empowerment through music is one that feels particularly resonant in these current gloomy times.

Whether you’re a rock fan or not, then, it’s impossible not to find something to enjoy in this show. Strap on your guitar, put on your best rock face and get ready to stick it to the man!

Four stars ✭✭✭✭

LISTINGS INFORMATION           

Theatre:                  New London Theatre, 166 Drury Lane, London WC2B 5PW
Dates:                    currently booking to 12 February 2017
Performances:          Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7.30pm, Thursday and Saturday 2.30pm, Sundays at 3pm
Running time:           approximately 2 hours 30 minutes including interval
Prices:                    £25.00 - £75.00 with £10 off all ticket prices for previews
Student rush tickets for £10 on Wednesday evenings.
All ticket prices include a £1.50 restoration levy.  No booking fee via official box office channels
Box Office:              0844 811 0052
Website:                 www.SchoolOfRockTheMusical.co.uk
Twitter & Instagram: @SchoolofRockuk
Facebook:               facebook.com/schoolofrockmusical

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