Review: School of Rock, Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

Review: School of Rock, Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

by Martin Brisland.

 If you’re looking for a fun filled family night out, this is it! Heading back to school at School of Rock is a must.

I never thought I’d see the day when a Conservative peer of the realm, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Julian Fellowes of Downton Abbey fame, urged a group of young people into an act of bolshie defiance. But that happens in their adaptation of the 2003 movie, when the children are rapturously urged to “Stick It to the Man”.

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s award-winning West End show, School of Rock – The Musical, features 14 new songs by him, plus all the original songs from the hilarious hit movie.

The plot follows Dewey Finn, a sacked guitarist and hungover slob. He impersonates a friend and takes on a job as a supply teacher at a posh prep school to pay his debts.

Overhearing his class playing a Mozart aria, Dewey realises they have real musical talent. He converts them to the joys of rock, releases their inner fire and even smuggles them out of the school to take part in a Battle of the Bands competition.

Jake Sharp is absolutely fantastic in the lead character. Any fears that we might be in for a Jack Black impersonation were quickly forgotten as his character Dewey Finn keeps all of the best bits of the film yet he makes the role his own.

Rebecca Lock also superbly plays Rosalie Mullins, the initially uptight Principal of Horace Green Preparatory School.

Her vocal range is exceptional and, despite being a hard and stern character, by the end of the show wins the whole audience over. Having shown her amazing ability to sing Mozart’s famously difficult Queen of the Night aria, she professes herself a fan of Stevie Nicks. She poignantly laments her lost life chances in the standout song Where Did the Rock Go?

However the main stars of School of Rock are the incredibly talented child cast. The children are phenomenal, bringing pure joy to the show. It is fantastic to see such a diverse group of children being on stage. Such talent is a sign that the future of musical theatre is in safe hands. School of Rock is actually a brilliant way to introduce children to the joys of live music.

There’s a pre-recorded message from Andrew Lloyd Webber at the start reminding the audience that the children in the band do play their instruments live in the show. The performance by the 12 mini musicians at the Battle of the Bands was the show’s absolute magic moment.

School of Rock the Musical takes an already fun film and lets it run riot on the stage. It’s joyous.

Even if there is a side of me that questions the premise that classical music is for stiffs, this is Lloyd Webber’s best show in years. Last night’s standing ovation at the end was totally deserved (18 July).

At a time of general gloom, this musical is dedicated to cheering us all up and it succeeds! Tickets for School of Rock – The Musical which runs until Saturday 23 July are on sale at or 02380 711811.

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