Musical theatre generally falls into one of two categories. The first starts with the music and then tries to fit a story around the musical tent poles; the second will use music to illustrate a story and characters. Happily, School of Rock is very much the latter. The story surrounds would-be rock star Dewey Finn trying to break out of his loser cycle and pay rent to his former band mate friend and wife (whose apartment he’s lodging in) by winning a local battle of the bands competition with some help from a class of school kids to whom he pretends to be a replacement teacher.
Made famous by the movie of the same name starring Jack Black, scored by Andrew Lloyd Webber and also written by Julian Fellowes, the musical comes to Auckland and here is directed by Laurence Connor and brilliantly cast by Natalie Gilhome. Not often, you call out a casting director but the actors selected for this show are simply stunning. The weight of the show rests on the narrow and young shoulders of the children cast, and boy do they deliver with assured performances, not only of character but also musicianship! Remy Grunden, Stephanie Kipnis, Bailey Landeg and especially Riley Thomas as Tomika all catch the eye and ear.
The adult cast are confidently led by a powerful Joe Kosky as Dewey but kudos to the multi award-winning Amy Lehpamer as Rosalie, Nadia Komazec as the overbearing Patty and John O’Hara having a complete blast as Ned.
The blend of the adults and children cast works a treat as the story of kids under pressure to perform find their voices through music unfolds. The musical numbers are expertly performed, bringing out rounds of applause for each one and one special reveal brought whoops of joy from some of the audience. The story and music are expertly woven, building to a suitably stomping crescendo.
The sheer joy and energy are more than enough to carry you through the show but this is a perfect mix of skill, artistry and storytelling that leaves you grinning with the sheer good times vibe of it all.
School of Rock is a perfect mix of skill, artistry and storytelling that leaves you grinning with the sheer good times vibe of it all.”
Get a ticket, get into it and enjoy the ensemble ride. I’ve no doubt some of these kids will grow up to be stars in their own right one day!
Reviewed by Mike Hales.