Based on the 2003 movie starring Jack Black and with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, lyrics by Glenn Slater and a book by Julian Fellowes, School of Rock tells the story of Dewey Finn (Jake Sharp), a wannabe rock star who impersonates a substitute teacher in a prestigious prep school. Upon discovering the musical talent of his young students he forms a band in an attempt to win the Battle of the Bands contest.
I was able to speak to Jake Sharp ahead of the opening night and he described how much stamina is needed for such a physical role, but I underestimated just how much he puts into every show. Sharp is a powerhouse of sheer energy throughout – possibly one of the most zealous and enthusiastic performances I have witnessed on stage. Navigating his way through his relationships with the students, indomitable headmistress Miss Mullins (Rebecca Lock), his only friend Ned Schneebly (Matthew Rowland) and Ned’s domineering girlfriend Patti Di Marco (Amy Oxley), he is able to take an essence of Jack Black while making the character his own and it is his energy that serves as the linchpin for the entire show. Sharp is absolutely perfect in the role and a joy to watch.
The young cast in the roles of the students at Horace Green also give eye-popping performances, playing their own instruments, singing and dancing with perfect harmony and choreography and delivering dialogue with comic timing that far beyond their years. I’m always impressed when young people have the confidence and talent to take on such big roles, but these performers were outstanding.
Rebecca Lock’s performance of headmistress Rosalie Mullins was also impressive, with a transformation from stern and controlled to secret rock goddess in an unlikely love story between Mullins and Dewey. Lock has a sensational voice, belting out the Queen of the Night aria from Mozart’s The Magic Flute with seeming ease on several occasions.
I loved the use of the set, being slick and cleverly transformed with the use of sliding panels, from Dewey’s bedroom, to the classroom, to a dive bar, to the stage at Battle of the Bands.
School of Rock is a fabulous show for both adults and children alike, with the slightly more cheeky jokes certain to go over the heads of the younger members of the audience. Fast-paced, fun and exciting, this is undoubtably a show for anyone who has ever had a dream…
School of Rock will be on stage at The Alexandra Theatre from Mon 31st January – Saturday 5th February 2022. Buy your tickets here.