School of Rock the Musical follows the plot of the 2003 movie starring Jack Black as Dewey Finn. Down and out Dewey Finn gets booted out of his band, fired from his job and struggles to pay his rent. All his hopes and aspirations come tumbling down and it seems as if he may drown in his woes. However a fortuitous phone call sets him on a path that not only brings him closer to his dream but also gives his life a deeper and more profound purpose. The phone call is from Rosalie Mullins, the Principal of Horace Green, a prestigious and well-paying establishment that needs a substitute teacher. Dewey grasps at the opportunity and embroils himself in plot that unfolds with hilarity.
Andrew Lloyd Webber brings the score to life with lyrics by Glenn Slater. There is a beautiful Easter egg in the show when the song Memory from Lloyd Webber’s “Cats” gets dissed and it easy to miss but will make you smile if you catch it.
For the production of School of Rock the Musical the role of Dewey is shared between two actors and after seeing the show I know why. There is barely a moment when the character is off the stage. The performance demands a relentless energy and the actor must be constantly present. Dewey’s spark maintains the enthusiasm that is infectious and vital to the rest of the cast and the plot. Brent Hill took the stage on Opening Night and faultlessly channelled a Rock and Roll demigod as he carried the story from beginning to end.
Amy Lehpamer as Rosalie Mullins was wonderful. Her presence as Principal Mullins filled the stage as she kept an eagle eye on her staff and students. Tall, soigné and commanding of attention, she still cultivated the playful element simmering under the skin of her character. The bar scene that plays out with Rosalie and Dewey is such fun to watch. With Stevie Nicks on the jukebox she lets her inner joy come out but there is also a sadness as she morns the joyful teenager she once was.
But what is a school without its students? And what is School of Rock the Musical without the talent and ingenuity of the young people who not only rock out with exceptional musical talent but also maintain a delightful energy that makes feet stomp and shoulders roll. We are told from the moments the lights go down that these kids play live and you’d better believe it. Each night one of three different casts takes to the stage. Opening night saw Zane Blumeris channelling some Hendrix and blowing the audience away with guitar skills I could only ever dream of. Cherami Mya Remulta had her signature Rock ‘and Roll bass face that went perfectly with her skills. Jude Hyland on the keys brought as much attitude to his playing as he did his character and Cooper Alexis never missed a beat on the drums.
Sabina Felias as Tomika had the audience in the palm of her hand as she sang Amazing Grace. I just wanted to hear more of her. Summer was played by Deeana Cheong Foo and her high achieving, organised ways were a great ballast for the hijinks and mayhem that is the School of Rock.
The staging by Anna Louizos change from one scene to another seamlessly. However her school sets are without a doubt the crème de la crème. The stained glassed windows are backlit, the wood panelled walls are filled with plaques and trophies, the staff room, with its leather couch and photo of a tight lipped prominent man, all come together to make you believe you are in a private school were detention would be given if your tie was not a Windsor knot.
School of Rock the Musical is a jovial night out with some great talent and musical jams to boot.
GWB Entertainment presents
School of Rock the Musical
music Andrew Lloyd Webber | lyrics Glenn Slater | book Julian Fellowes
Director Laurence Connor
Venue: Capitol Theatre | 13 Campbell St, Haymarket NSW
Dates: 14 November 2019 – 16 February 2020