Telling the story of broke, lazy man-child Dewey Finn who pretends to be a substitute teacher to earn a quick buck, the show has the same abundance of quotable quips that makes the film fizz. Then comes the cheese, as the starched, straight laced prep school pupils turn out to be Dewey's dream band mates.
The unlikely and uplifting plot, propelled by a passion for all things rock music offers prime material for musical theatre veteran Andrew Lloyd Webber (Phantom of the Opera, Jesus Christ Superstar, Cats) and Downton Abbey writer Julian Fellowes to create a feelgood musical.
But the main lesson we learn from School of Rock on stage is that it takes more than a crowd-pleasing story and some impressive performers to create a hit. And ultimately most of what's enjoyable about this musical you can get from the movie.
That's not to detract from the skills of the 'triple threat' cast, comprised largely of preteens who nimbly combine acting, singing and strumming their rock band instruments live. Nor indeed does leading man David Fynn disappoint as a rambunctious, obnoxious and lovable Dewey. Of a fairly forgettable songbook, it's only the anthemic 'Stick it to the Man' that gets our toes tapping.
Overall School of Rock the musical an easy watch with a fair few laughs and plenty to amuse the kids (providing you're not precious about the odd expletive).
But, it's not quite enough. In the wake of hits such as Book of Mormon, Hamilton, Groundhog Day, etc this musical comedy feels dated. Its faithful adherence to the film, without the subplots and contexts afforded by cinema, results in a flimsy story, which never gains enough momentum to feel moving.
It's missing the self-awareness and irony needed to make the cheesy plot properly palatable. And as a result, though School of Rock is far from a 'fail', it's also unlikely to rock your world.
We recommend for children ages 8+
|What||School of Rock the Musical, New London Theatre review|
New London Theatre
166 Drury Lane, Camden, London, WC2B 5PW | MAP
|Nearest tube||Holborn (underground)|
24 Oct 16 – 14 Jan 18, Booking times vary
|Website||Click here to book via Culture Whisper and See Tickets|