School of Rock, the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, opened at the Wolverhampton Grand last night, and it has to be said, it truly rocked! Based on the Jack Black film of the same name, an awe inspiring, talented cast brought the movie to life in the best way possible, with verve, with joy and with performances that will long stay in the memory.
For those who haven’t seen the film version, School of Rock is the story of a loser, Dewey Finn. After losing yet another job, and being thrown out of his band on the eve of the ‘Battle of the Bands’ competition, Dewey is on the verge of hitting rock bottom and being thrown out of the home he shares with his best friend Ned Schneebly and his girlfriend Nadia. When a chance arises for Dewey to earn his rent by posing as Ned, and taking a job teaching at Horace Green, a prestigious private school, he jumps at it, with hilarious results. But discovering his class are all talented musicians sends Dewey in a new direction, maybe could his class enter the battle of the bands and he could achieve his life long dream after all.
Jake Sharp is brilliant as Dewey. He plays him as almost like an overgrown child, lacking in responsibility, manners or any sort of morale ethic. It is a tremendous performance that is made all the more special by his never-ending energy. He is ably supported by Rebecca Lock as uptight headteacher (with a penchant for Stevie Nicks) Mrs Mullins, both funny and yet poignant in the ‘Edge of Seventeen’ scene, Matthew Rowland as the real Ned Scheebly, an hilariously nerdy guitar hero addict, and Nadia Violet Johnson as his girlfriend Patty, who, as is so often in these sorts of shows, is actually the voice of morale and reason, and so is therefore some kind of villain.
But the scene stealers have to be the children. Playing all their own instruments, showing incredible talent in the song and dance scenes, and all able to deliver a killer line with comic talent, the talented young cast are at the heart of School of Rock, and totally steal the hearts of the audience with ease. They make you laugh often, but with the sad lament ‘If Only You Would Listen’ they also bring a lump to your throat in beautiful style. Another highlight is the stand out song ‘Stick It To The Man’ which is performed in exuberant style by this group of mini rockers. You’ll find yourself humming it all the way home…
School Of Rock is just glorious, energetic, funny, poignant with a joy that is highly contagious. Definitely one of the best shows you’ll see all year.
School of Rock
23 – 25th September
Wolverhampton Grand, click here for ticket information.