theatre, west end theatre, film/stage, musical, school of rock

School of Rock: West End

School of Rock, a classic rock and roll fuelled film starring Jack Black as Dewy Finn. A washed up guitarist who thinks only of himself, a massive ego, taking constant prolonged solos not caring of his band (No Vacancy). Well I guess that could be said of a lot of 'stars' actually. Dewy gets fired just weeks before battle of the bands. Screwing any chance he has of gaining a pay check from it. He is already living in his friend's (Ned) flat and has been for years. Never paying his share of the rent, until the new girlfriend of Ned's decides enough is enough. Miss Assistant to the Major bosses his friend around forcing him to give notice if he doesn’t pay all the back rent by the end of the month.

Faced with selling his guitars as the only way he could possibly pay his rent, Dewy questions his reality and how to survive. Fate seems to be offering Dewy a chance of redemption as Horace Green Prep School rings for Ned wanting an immediately starting sub teacher slot paying $950 a week. Dewy sees only $ signs, and fakes being Ned to take the job.

As well as being faced with the very strict head mistress (Miss Mullins), Summer (a strong independent young lady who will always get her own way) and a class of young children to teach, he is left attempting to call a permanent recess. Until he over hears the children at music class. Giving him the bright idea to use the children to win battle of the bands. When they return to the classroom he starts issuing rock instruments as well as cd's to mould them into what he requires. Horrified that they don't know a single classic rock band. Even more shocked at the fact their idea of good music is Taylor Swift.

Not by the time Mr Dewy Finn is finished with them that is for sure!

Leading Dewy on a voyage of self discovery, training the children. Learning there actually is something he is good at after all this time. Finding himself growing up as he guides the children. Having a near heart attack when Freddie goes back to a band's car without telling him. The kind of band which does drugs which he is swiftly rescued from!

The stage show stays fairly true to the film, with a lot of the same jokes. It brings more LGBTQ friendly characters in, not just 'fancy pants' their stylist, we now also have gay dad's. Which are the cutest couple in the entire production! It is close enough to the original that fans will not be too upset by the slight storyline changes. However the whole production suffers heavily from unimaginative choreography. Mostly seeming to rely on the children jumping up and down. As well as poor musical selections in the new original score.

I swear if I heard one more reprise of 'I'm in the band!' or 'Stick it to the Man' I would have screamed! They are mediocre songs at best, which become highly annoying fast. The classic song which sets the whole piece (School or Rock) we only hear ONE single verse of before the finale, yet the kids all magically know the whole song ready for the battle! No chance! This should have been made much more of at the earlier scene.

'If Only You Would Listen' the children need to be taken back to rehearsal on fast. Instead of creating a smooth counterpoint they are fighting over each other's vocal talents. Making the whole piece just sound a mess. Almost as if it was a last minute addition to the production. Some classic and well known rock song injected into the production would improve it vastly. Or at least something other then the same two songs on repeat like their ipod has stuck.

They also need to take into account that from side stalls seats you can see EVERYTHING going off in the wings off stage. They need curtains or the cast to stand further back. The last thing the audience wants to see when focusing on the show is members of cast queuing or set changes being prepared.

The children are crazily talented, several times the point is made that every single child plays live. GOOD FOR THEM!!! I hate when people are miming, shows no talent what so ever. Also with head mics cutting out at several points we could hear good projection from the children working well to keep the production moving forward. The adults are equally talented, respectfully keeping their performance as close to the original as humanly possible.

The 'School of Rock' finale scene was masterful, gaining three quarters of the theatre standing OV. I did enjoy the main cast using the normal stalls doors to enter the room in parts of the show. As well as to watch the children on stage like we really were the battle of the bands audience. The area of the theatre is used well apart from the rotating stage allowing people to 'walk on the stop', which does start to make you feel dizzy after a while. It isn't needed!

The production just feels a little unfinished. Like I am watching a rehearsal not a professional production. Until the piece gains better songs and choreography it just feels a little too High Scholl Musical for my tastes. With poor emotive direction from the cast in the musical numbers. Don't just stand there a sing a song, FEEL the lyrics and your audience will as well.

All in all a good show, just needs some polishing up.


Sarah Beth James