Bristol Hippodrome Tues 10th – Sat 14th May 2022
This week the Hippodrome invited my thirteen year old and I to the Bristol leg of the first UK and Ireland School of Rock tour. I’d been wanting to see this show for ages but for obvious reasons we hadn’t been to the theatre much over the last couple of years.
Read on for a plot synopsis, show highlights and our verdict on The School of Rock musical!
But first a little background…
WHEN DID SCHOOL OF ROCK THE MUSICAL COME OUT?
Based on the film featuring Jack Black, School of Rock, The Musical debuted at Broadway’s Winter Garden Theatre in New York in 2015. It transferred to London in late 2016 where it ran for over three years.
After seeing the potential of the film, it took seven years and a lot of determination from Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and his wife, to secure the rights to create School of Rock, The Musical.
This musical seems to fit perfectly within Andrew’s ethos and passion for musical education:
He’s on “a constant mission to ensure that young people have the resources and access they need to embrace music in all its forms and disciplines”.
Did you know that the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation awards scholarships each year to talented musicians in financial need as well as other projects supporting diversity in theatre and music in schools?
I did not know that but it does shed some light onto why he was so enthusuiastic about this project.
WHAT IS SCHOOL OF ROCK ABOUT?
Dewey Finn wants to be a rock star but gets thrown out by his bandmates.
He finds himseld in desparate need of cash to pay his rent. When a great job opportunity arises for his friend at a prestigious school, Dewey impersonates him and poses as a substitute teacher.
He throws out the grade-focussed curriculum the students of Horace Green are supposed to follow in favour of permanent recess.
After overhearing the kids’ beautiful performance of classical music one day, he decides he could transpose their talent. He forms them into a rock band and teaches the formerly mild-mannered, conformist students to “Stick it to the Man”!
As the term progresses, Dewey and the school’s headmistress fall for each other and Dewey helps the beautiful, but uptight Miss Mullins, rediscover her wild side.
But has Dewey bitten off more then he can chew with both parents evening and the battle of the bands looming?
SCHOOL OF ROCK SONGS
There’s a good mix of dialogue, humour, music and dancing in the show. I can’t claim to know a lot of the songs, but “You’re in the Band”, “Stick it to the Man” and Tomika’s sweet performance of “Amazing Grace” all stood out for us.
SCHOOL OF ROCK HIGHLIGHTS
The children playing, “We’re in the band” is superbly energetic. We’re informed at the start of the show by Sir Andrew himself, (Ok, maybe it’s a recording of his voice), informing us that yes, the children do all play their own instruments during the performance.
Despite this clear announcement, once you start watching it’s easy to forget, as you’d think they’d be too busy juggling all that acting, singing and completely exhausting dancing to manage anything else!
The children’s cast are generally fabulous. And not just in a cute way, but in a, “wow, what amazingly talented and professional performers” way. The children really can play those instruments and captivate an audience at the same time!
The choreography of the energetically swinging pigtails is definitely worth a mention here.
Despite anticipating what’s coming, when we finally hear Tomika’s lovely voice singing “Amazing Grace”, I instantly get goosebumps.
The headteacher, Rosalie Mullins manages to be both stiff and likeable. And Rebecca Lock’s voice is incredible. What a range! I love her understated performance while she’s seated in the booth of a bar, getting tipsy on beer with Dewey.
The sets have been cleverly adapted for the stage, particularly the elite Horace Green school with stained glass windows, wood panelled corridors and traditional school desks which are enthusiastically wheeled in and out by the students during scene changes.
SCHOOL OF ROCK MUSICAL AGE RATING?
The story line is easy to follow.
Bad language is gently scattered through the show in a, “oops I shouldn’t have said that in front of the kids”, way. We didn’t find it offensive.
I think I’d be happy to take an eight year old.
SCHOOL OF ROCK MUSICAL LENGTH
School of Rock is approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes long, including a 20 minute interval.
SCHOOL OF ROCK – THE VERDICT
The show is funny and great musical entertainment.
Dewey makes us laugh repeatedly and Mrs Mullins captivates us with her lovely voice.
But the absolute stars of this show are the kids. They have the enviable combination of energy, talent and youth. Thanks for an amazing evening.
Even my thirteen year old son said how good School of Rock was – without any prompting or anything.
High praise indeed!
READ THE FULL GUIDE TO BRISTOL HIPPODROME SHOWS
For up to date show information, read my full Bristol Hippodrome what’s on guide. It covers Bristol Theatre productions including pricing, booking information and links to more reviews with age suitability guides.
SCHOOL OF ROCK THE MUSICAL CREATIVES
School of Rock – The Musical features new music written by Andrew Lloyd Webber with lyrics by Glenn Slater (The Little Mermaid, Sister Act) and a book by Julian Fellowes.
Originally directed by Laurence Connor (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, London Palladium 2019) with choreography by JoAnn M Hunter, set and costume designs by Anna Louizos, lighting design by Natasha Katz and sound design by Mick Potter.
Christopher Key takes the reigns as Associate Director, Maria Graciano as Associate choreographer and Musical Supervision is by Matt Smith. Adam Fisher and Stuart Porter complete the team as Associate Sound and Lighting Designers.
The UK & Ireland Tour of School of Rock – The Musical is produced by David Ian for Crossroads Live by arrangement with the Really Useful Group.
SCHOOL OF ROCK THE MUSICAL CAST – ADULTS
Since the tour launched in Hull last September, Jake Sharp has led the adult cast as Dewey Finn in spectacular style having previously performed the role in the West End. Alex Tomkins performs in the role at certain performances.
They are joined by Rebecca Lock as Rosalie Mullins, Matthew Rowland as Ned Schneebly and Nadia Violet Johnson as Patty Di Marco.
The remaining adult cast comprise Ryan Bearpark, James Bisp,Chris Breistein, Joanna O’Hare, Samuel Haughton, Tom Hext, Harveen Mann, Richard Morse, Annell Odartey, Amy Oxley, Helena Pipe, Michaela Powell, Richard Vorster and Craig Watson.
SCHOOL OF ROCK THE MUSICAL CAST – CHILDREN
New children to the show are: Effie Lennon Ballard (eleven years old from South Derbyshire) who will play Katie, Dereke Oladele (ten years old from South London), Max Ivemey (twelve years old from Hampshire), Aadi Patel (12 years old from Kent) who will all play the role of James; Ruthie Heathcote (nine years old from Woking), Ziana Olarewaju (11 years old from South London) will play Sophie, Kaylenn Aires Fonseca (eleven years old from East London) who will play Billy, Layla Pages (eleven years old from Surrey), Evie Marner (twelve years old from Hertfordshire) and Florence Moluluo (nine years old from Bolton) will play Summer; Tia Isaac (eleven years old from East London), will play Tomika; Liza Deikalo (10 years old from West London) will play Marcy.
The new children will join the current children’s cast who comprise of Eva McGrath (thirteen years old from Birmingham), Emerson Sutton (thirteen years old from the West Midlands), Thomas Harvey (twelve years old from Cheshire) and Isaac Forward (twelve years old from Buckinghamshire) who play Freddy; Daisy Hanna (thirteen years old from Surrey), Ivy Balcombe (nine years old from Surrey) and Ava Masters (eleven years old from Kent) who play Katie; Oliver Forde (twelve years old from London), Angus McDougall (thirteen years old from Buckinghamshire), David Gluhovsky (twelve years old from London) and Oliver Pearce (eleven years old from North Wales)who play Lawrence; Joseph Sheppard (twelve years old from the West Midlands), Harry Churchill (nine years old from Devon), Hanley Webb (ten years old from Northamptonshire) and William Laborde (twelve years old from Surrey) who play Zack; Devon Francis (eleven years old from London), who play James; Jemima Newman (nine years old from Bedfordshire) and Inez Danielak (twelve years old from Essex) who play Sophie; Wilf Cooper (twelve years old from Surrey) and Alfie Morwood (ten years from South Wales) who play Billy; Jasmine Djazel (eleven years old from London) and Angel Lucero (eleven years old from London) who play Tomika; Caelan Wallington (eleven years old from Watford), Alex Shotton (twelve years old from Buckinghamshire) and Nesim Adnan (ten years old from Kent) who play Mason; Elodie Salmon (eleven years old from London) and Paris Banyong (nine years old from London) who play Marcy; and Kyla Robinson (eleven years old from Surrey), Eden Anthony (twelve years old from London) and Elisha Kerai (eleven years old from London) who play Shonelle.
PIN “SCHOOL OF ROCK REVIEW” FOR LATER
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DISCLOSURE: We received tickets/admission for the purposes of this review.
All opinions are my/our own and I retain full editorial control.