Sunday, July 3

School of Rock the Musical – Hull New Theatre

There are a dozen good reasons to go and see School of Rock the Musical – the 12 super-talented children, stars every one.

Actually, make that a baker’s dozen – the 13th good reason is an adult, who was the most childish of them all.

Hull’s New Theatre welcomed audiences back for the first time since Covid hit, and it was Andrew Lloyd Webber’s West End smash hit making its first UK and Ireland tour of the venue that had theatregoers rushing back in their droves.

Based on the 2003 movie of the same name, the story centres around Dewey Finn (an energetic Jake Sharp, the man-child I mentioned above), who, desperate for rent money, takes his best friend’s identity to gain a teaching post at a prestigious prep school.

Dewey – known at school as Ned Schneebly – causes havoc from the start, much to the annoyance of the School Principal, the uptight Miss Mullins (Rebecca Lock).

The 12 pupils in Schneebly’s class are just as uptight, but it’s not long before Dewey has them – and us – rockin’ in the aisles.

There is never a dull moment in the 2-hour 20-minute production, on a stage which alternated between Dewey’s unkempt bedroom, the austere surroundings of the school and the flashing lights of the stage the youngsters end up performing on.

His 12 charges have only been trained in classical music – rock music is alien to them.

But in his own clumsy and uncouth way, Dewey soon loosens them all up and before long they are little rebels, even ready to defy their parents who rebel themselves when they realise the $50,000 a year school fees are producing nothing more than mini-Mr Schneeblys.

Apart from his rent worries, Dewey’s main aim is to win the Battle of The Bands competition he was due to enter with his former bandmates, who had cruelly dispensed with his services.

He is blatantly using the kids in his charge, but in their own way, they are using him – to escape their parents’ uninteresting expectations of them, helping them see their offspring as mini-adults with minds of their own.

Sharp is the obvious adult star of the show. He is breathtakingly unstoppable. The equally talented Lock, as Miss Mullins, gradually blossoms into the Stevie Nicks-loving rock chick she was always meant to be. And it’s not long before love is in the air.

And you would be hard-pushed to find a more talented group of youngsters – and yes, they really do play the musical instruments!

But everybody on (and off) stage on the night, played their part in entertaining an audience which had been starved of live entertainment for far too long.

Gold stars all round!

Runs until Saturday, September 18th, 2021, nightly at 7.30pm (not Sundays) with 2.30pm matinee on Saturday.

Tickets cost from £18.50. Call the box office on (01482) 300306 or visit www.hulltheatres.co.uk

Reviewed by Jackie Foottit

Reviewed: 11th September 2021

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★

Age guidance 8+

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