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School of Rock

School of Rock

School of Rock is the global hit musical based on the iconic movie starring Jack Black. Wannabe rock star Dewey Finn is cast out by his dive‐bar bandmates and finds himself in desperate need of cash. Posing as a substitute music teacher at an elite prep school, he exposes his students to the rock gods he idolises, transforming them into a mind‐blowing rock band. While teaching these pint‐sized prodigies what it means to truly rock out, Dewey falls for the school’s beautiful, but uptight headmistress, Miss Mullins, helping her rediscover the wild child within. But, will they all find redemption at the battle of the bands?

Featuring 14 new songs from Andrew Lloyd Webber, all the original songs from the movie, and a band of insanely talented kids that play live every show, School of Rock will warm your heart and blow you away in equal measure.

Don’t miss out! Book your tickets today to see the hit musical that everyone’s raving about.

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Our review on School of Rock

School Of Rock - Palace Theatre, Manchester - Tuesday 4th January 2022 by Karen Ryder

Our Rating

What a way to rock in the New Year!  School Of Rock recruited a fresh bunch of groupies at their gig last night and I am definitely one of them.  Rock is injected into your veins right from the off with the band No Vacancy hitting the stage and introducing us to Dewey Finn (Alex Tomkins) – the rocker whose head is in the clouds and whose philosophy is to simply riff his life from one day to the next.  His unique style and carefree approach get him kicked out of No Vacancy and through some energetic rhythmic vocals and moves, Dewey invites us into his life, setting the scene for the backbone of the play. 

He is a broke, jobless, bandless, soon to be homeless nobody who has nothing but a dream and a six string in his heart.  He has some questionable habits, such as sniffing and eating his own belly button gunk and hasn’t paid rent on his room in forever.  When his best friends girlfriend gives him the ultimatum of payment or the gutter, he can’t believe his luck when he intercepts a call meant for his friend Schneebly, to work as a supply teacher at the poshest school in town.  Seeing nothing but dollar signs, Dewey accepts and turns up to teach at Horace Green, albeit it an hour late, as Mr. Schneebly.

The mash up of Dewey and children is not an instant hit and it seems they will never make the rock n roll hall of fame, especially as his first attempts to be in charge see him stealing the students food, money and education.  He makes up rock reference names for them, such as Freddie Mercury and ignores their fear and frustrations of a familiar school day structure.  He is not a fan…………until he hears them in a music lesson and discovers their talent.  Music allows him to connect, allows him to understand them and speak their language.  Fuelled by his desire to play at The Battle of The Bands competition, he makes it his mission to turn these kids into the ultimate rock band – into the School Of Rock. 


There are a few amps in the road along the way, such as hiding their mission from the rest of the school staff and the parents and keeping up the pretence of actually being a qualified teacher, but nothing that can’t be fixed with quick wit, a beer and Stevie Nicks.  This is rock n roll after all.  But of course, real life has a rhythm of its own and always catches up with you in the end.  When Dewey’s cover is blown at parents evening, chaos ensues and his heart is broken – not for himself as you may imagine, but because he has blown the kids chances of playing at The Battle Of The Bands.  For the first time, we see Dewey’s vulnerability and realise that his passion for music has modulated into a passion for the wellbeing of his students.  There is a wonderfully touching moment as the students turn up to make sure he knows his own worth through a reprise of the beautiful If Only You Would Listen.  Job done, they set off to The Battle Of The Bands…………….and the rest is just rock n roll.


School Of Rock
is a fun, light-hearted and insanely talented piece of theatre.  There are brilliant one liners that self-mock the genius who wrote its music Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber.  For instance, when one student auditions for the band by singing Memory from Cats, Dewey screams out that he never wants to hear that song again or to ever see the disaster of its film!  Dewey provides much of the humour and is an instant hit with the audience, particularly the younger members who find him hilarious.  At times, their laughter at Dewey was so contagious, adults ended up laughing at the kids laughing!  And School Of Rock is all about the kids.  I mean, what?!  The kids in the cast seriously have to be witnessed to be believed.  The performance starts with a message from ALW stating that yes, the children in the show do play all their own instruments throughout the show and are indeed playing live.  I would be singing the praises of the musicians if these were seasoned professional adults but lets just stop and take in the fact that these are kids!  Mini rock legends who kill it, slice it, dice it and serve you rock n roll raw, live and loving it! 

I cannot stress enough that these kids make the show.  They ARE the show!  From the moment they appear on stage, the show gained a whole new energy for this was the moment the show truly began with everything previous being their warm up act.  This talent is given its due respect through You’re In The Band where each student receives their moment in the spotlight as they audition for Dewey.  It allows the audience to see for the first time that these kids are not playing at being musicians with a half remembered version of Frere Jacques on the recorder, but they are fully fledged living breathing musicians who leave you gobsmacked and bewildered with awe.  It also highlights their singing and acting abilities for each student character is clearly defined and recognisable in many cases from your own school days.  I can’t even imagine the casting brief that went out for these roles because the kids are all professional musicians, singers, actors, and dancers!  They aren’t a triple threat, they’re a quadruple threat!

If Only You Would Listen
brought a tear to my eye.  Firstly, the harmonies created by the children were heavenly, but the lyrics (provided by Glenn Slater) genuinely touched me.  I’m always a sucker for anything to do with kids as I work with them in the arts and in wellbeing, and this song perfectly encapsulated both.  Far too often as adults we speak FOR children and do not listen to what they are trying to tell us.  We think we know best and so from a place of love we try to protect them from the worst of the world whilst giving them opportunities for the best of the world, without ever stopping to truly listen to what the child wants.  Just because they are young does not mean they don’t have their own valid thoughts, feelings and opinions and this song portrays this message perfectly.


Stick It To The Man
was an audience favourite and at the interval, where ever you turned, someone was humming it, as I also found myself doing so on the way home.  Yep – and now I’ve just mentioned it, it’s going round my head again!  It is a brilliant blend of rebellion, rock n roll and rousing rhythms that pulsate in your mind again and again.


The second half brought us the most magical moment with the student character Tomika (Souparnika Nair) singing Amazing Grace a cappella.  You could have heard a pin drop as her stunning voice echoed through the theatre and through my heart.  Nair is a star who I now have to list as one of my all-time favourite singers.  She led the reprise of If Only You Would Listen and had me blubbing like a baby all over again.  Simply stunning.   


All of this led to the shows climatic finale – The Battle Of The Bands – a mini rock concert where we were encouraged to take photos, film, rock, jump up and generally treat it as a fully fledged concert, which is exactly what it was.  If you had been left in any doubt as to the talent of these children as singers and musicians, then they wiped the floor with those thoughts in this concert!  It was incredible!  A nice touch was for the actors playing their parents to come and join us in the audience as if they were watching the concert too.  You felt like you were truly jamming with the band and the lighting and smoke effects enhanced everything to the next level.


We were treated to the understudy playing Dewey (Alex Tomkins  - Cinderella, School Of Rock) and he was brilliant!  He was adored by the children in the audience and onstage alike and had a true connection with them, for he was able to be a big kid at heart himself.  From his icky quirks, to his comedic delivery, brilliant vocals and Duracell bunny type energy, he delivered (in my opinion) above and beyond what Jack Black did in the 2003 film original.  Matthew Rowland (Waitress, Joseph, Cats, Matilda) as Ned Schneebly was a brilliant comedic chameleon, from the big kid best friend to Dewey, to the down trodden boyfriend, to the rocker, he was able to switch his personality traits back and forth with the ease of a slick guitar glissando. 


Rebecca Lock (Curtains, Heathers, Mary Poppins) was a masterclass in singing.  Her vocals were incredible and she played the Headmistress Ms. Mullins with a wonderful stick up her posterior that we saw fall out (metaphorically of course) as she relaxed and remembered her love for rock n roll and that even though she was an authority figure, she too could Stick It To The Man.  Nadia Violet Johnson (Nice Work If You Can Get It, The Wild Party, Jerry Springer The Opera) played the back breaking girlfriend of Ned’s, Patty.  She was high energy, believable to the point she got booed (tongue in cheek style) and was a brilliant presence whenever she was on stage, demanding your attention.


The whole ensemble of children and other adults were brilliantly cast, and it’s no wonder why every single one of them made ‘the band’.  This is a true team and a joy to witness the fun and friendship created by theatre.  I am sure this tour of School Of Rock will go Triple Platinum and one thing is sure, Manchester pledges its allegiance to the band because these kids rock!


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