• Review by John Murray

School Of Rock - The Musical

Theatres clubs and venues are back in Scotland and immediately it was time to see a big touring show. Only confirmed in recent days but in time to ensure good audience figures School Of Rock has all the hallmarks of a quality production. Firstly, this is an Andrew Lloyd Webber production so expect perfection with 14 new songs adding to the songs familiar from the original movie which inspired the stage show. This is the show ALW took to Broadway and impressed the critics and with government restrictions over the touring show opened in Edinburgh this week as part of a huge tour which will take them al over the UK until August. For writer Julian Fellows it must have been quite a departure for his Downton Abbey which incidentally received 69 Emmy Award nominations winning fifteen.

We meet Dewey Finn played by Jake Sharp who joins a quality prep school as a supply teacher and as a failed rocker himself he turns his class into a full rock band with all the youngsters playing live. To see this on stage without any retakes or camera trickery is astounding and I am sure some future stars are on this tour. To add to the anticipation the first voice we hear is Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber as he personally welcomes us back to theatre and to reassure us that the kids are playing live on guitar, bass, drums and keys.

We of course do not initially see that as the characters are formed at Horace Green Prep School. Instead, we see Dewey’s band No Vacancy opening with I’m Too Hot For You amid a flurry of great rock songs, straight harmonious chorus songs like their Alma Mater and great individual performances from the youngster both in their dance but particularly in their musical skills.

Jake Sharp as Dewey is on stage most of the time with a full energetic, comedy and vocal role and everyone can relate to him conning his way into a job and winning over the students to compete in the Battle Of The Bands. Massive credit to the gang though with Thomas Harvey is a 12-year-old from Cheshire playing Freddy, Daisy Hanna (13) is from Surrey playing Katie, Angus McDougall from Buckinghamshire plays Lawrence, Harry Churchill is a 9-year-old from Devon plays Zack, Hadlee Snow is a 10-year-old from Brighton playing James and Jemima Newman from Bedfordshire plays Sophie at just 9 years old. I was still learning to tie laces at that age.

You’re In The Band is outstanding and other big numbers like Stick It To The Man and the finale Queen Of The Night had the audience on their feet. Outstanding performance and a great welcome back for musical theatre in Scotland.

Edinburgh Playhouse till Jan 29 Tickets HERE

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