Brett Herriot Review

School of Rock, Edinburgh Playhouse Review:

“Musical theatre event that we all need at the moment

**** 4 Stars

Based on the 2003 motion Picture telling the Story of Dewey Finn (Jake Sharp) a die hard rock fan that is kicked out of his band, stealing the identity of his friend Ned Schneebly (Matthew Rowland) Dewey enters Horace Green School as a teacher to make ends meet.  On discovering the musical talents of the pupils he sets the class and himself on a course to “The Battle of the Bands” and a true moment to shine as a rock god.

This is essentially a coming of age tale filled with rock tunes, peerless casting and a Childs cast that puts us all to shame with their talent. It asks us how far are we willing to go for rock glory but also what will it take to stand up to those we love most and simply just be us.

The musical was a departure for Andrew Lloyd Webber in 2015 when it debuted on Broadway prior to its opening at the New London Theatre (now the Gillian Lynne), it’s the west end production that is the basis for this, the First National UK TOUR.

Performances across the board are excellent with “Sharp” turning in a finely tuned turn as “Dewey Finn” and special credit must go to Matthew Rowland as (Ned Schneebly) who characterisation is charming and comedy timing spot on the money and really makes the most of his stage time. The production is very much an ensemble effort and that comes across in the joy the cast have in blending the comedy and drama that this shows Exudes.

The children’s cast are all stars and multi talented, strapping on guitars, playing keyboards and drums throughout the production. Production wise Anna Louizos’s Scenic design looks very small on the Playhouse stage especially with large black cloths framing it, you can’t help wonder if more of the stage could have been use. That being said the set shifts effortlessly from New York Apartment, to School to Battle of the band arena with ease and Natasha Katz lighting is bang on from the twilight of New York to full out arena rock show lighting. Mick Potter’s sound design delivers too, although there were a couple of dodgy mic moments but this is probably opening night teething issues.

Director Laurence Connor has made the most of Lloyd Webber’s Music, Glenn Slater’s Lyrics and Julian Fellows (yes he of Downton abbey) book and brings a real joy de vere along with a human touch to a story that asks us to think that perhaps it’s better to stand up and be one’s self rather that conform to others expectations of ourselves. This is never truer than in “Rebecca Lock’s” stand out performance of “Where did the Rock Go?” a beautifully delivered ode to what could have been.

School of Rock is a Musical theatre event that we all need at the moment, it bright and bold and full of hope and it’s a wonderful  production taking to the stage of the Playhouse following the lifting of Omicron Covid restrictions, you won’t go wrong in grabbing a ticket and rocking out!

School of Rock UK Tour, Edinburgh Playhouse runs until Saturday 29th January 2022 for tickets go to: the production plays Glasgow Theatre Royal in March 2022.


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