School of Rock – New London Theatre

When taking someone to the theatre, it is always a nervous experience. They have put their trust in you for the selection of the production and you hope that they will enjoy it and get as much from the performance as you.

On a recent visit to School of Rock, I took my little sister. She is 13 and this was to be her first West End musical. Her previous exposure to musicals had been school plays and Sunday afternoon viewing on the television. What was she to make of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s latest offering?

With no knowledge of the 2003 film, she was to view this show with fresh eyes. She sat and watched, she laughed, she clapped and all seemed well. I waited until the train home to quiz her and find out her thoughts. The verdict – it is brilliant!

She loved the relationship between the kids and Dewey Finn (played superbly by Gary Trainor). The student/teacher dynamic kept her attention and, for someone at school, it is a relatable relationship. The back and forth wordplay is funny and witty, full of asides and references ensuring the pace of the show never drops. My sister is from a generation that is used to the instant. Google, Facebook, Spotify, and other have illuminated the need to wait, to sit still and have provided an array of satellite distractions. What Lloyd Webber and Julian Fellows have done here is offer a show that captures the imagination of this generation without ever being patronising or ignoring the parents and older siblings in the room. The show is for everybody and everybody will enjoy it.

Another point that she found impressive is the fact that the kids on-stage play their musical instruments live. It is great to see young people being empowered to reach their potential and do what they are capable of doing (in this case singing and playing music to packed houses in the west end). Let’s hope the School of Rock’s message spreads and young people will have the chances to engage in whatever activity they excel in and be the best they can be.

One thing that my sister definitely took away from the show is the soundtrack. Full of catchy rocky numbers, Mount Rock and Stick it to the Man being firm favourites, the show will stay with audiences for a long time and it is a welcome bit of fun that everyone needs in their life.

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