School of Rock 2017
21-25 November 2017
One of the biggest hits currently running in the West End, School of Rock tells the uplifting story of wannabe rock god and loveable layabout Dewey Finn, who pretends to be a teacher (his best friend Ned Schneebly) and ends up bringing the joy of music to the exclusive but uptight Horace Green Preparatory School. With a joyous score by Andrew Lloyd Webber, hilarious lyrics by Glenn Slater and a fast and witty script by Julian Fellowes, this show certainly deserves the plaudits heaped upon it by the critics and audiences alike.
Recently, Andrew Lloyd Webber took the unusual step of allowing the show to be performed by UK schools while it is still running on Broadway and in the West End; in his own words “SCHOOL OF ROCK is for everyone to take part in. It is a celebration of the empowering force of music.”
Last week’s production at St Aidan’s really took these words to heart and provided an amazing evening’s entertainment for a sold-out audience of around 2,000 people over a five night run. The challenge of staging such a complex show within a school hall should not be underestimated, but under the creative direction of Mrs Fran Bray, the simple but hugely effective set and slick, professional staging brought this musical adventure to life and the audience to their feet! Together with a driving rock band under the direction of Mrs Vicki Elliott and fantastic choreography by Ms Susannah Miller, this was a great recipe for a hit show.
Although it is hard to pick out individual cast members, special mention should be made of Oscar Gray (Zack), Daniel Bryant (Freddy), George Dickson (Lawrence) and Kiera Smallwood (Katie) who formed the kids’ band and played their instruments live on stage every night. Band manager Summer (Megan Walker) was a hilariously bossy foil to the sloppy Dewey, stylist Billy (Callum Bruce) brought a touch of glamour and plenty of sequins to proceedings and, as Tomika, Katy Metheringham’s voice was simply spellbinding.
Playing the real Ned Schneebly and his demanding girlfriend Patty, Luke Morland and Claudia Moore displayed great singing and acting skills and the multi-talented ensemble portrayed parents, teachers and bikers with equal finesse. No Vacancy, fronted by Jacob Handslip as Theo, were a very credible band and provided some moments of stand-out comedy.
The prim and proper head teacher of Horace Green Prep, Rosalie Mullins, was played superbly by Ottilie Hill Smith and the part required her to sing Mozart’s notoriously difficult “Queen of the Night” aria; her pitch-perfect singing and poise perfectly captured the character of the perfectionist who eventually learns how to let down her hair – literally as well as figuratively!
Inevitably, the part of Dewey Finn lies at the heart of the show but nobody in the audience can have anticipated the amazing performance they were about to see. Tom Bracewell displayed a commanding voice of incredible range and immaculate comic timing; he really WAS Dewey Finn! On the last night, the show was seen by special guest David Wilson, Music Manager of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group, who was impressed by every aspect of the show but made a point of mentioning that Tom “should audition for the show in the West End” – great praise indeed!
Congratulations to every member of the talented cast, band, crew and production team for a truly rocking success of a show!