Youngsters triumph in battle of the bands at New Wimbledon Theatre
Jake Sharp as Dewey Finn with the School of Rock band
The School of Rock musical, adapted from the 2003 film, tells the heart-warming tale of a wanna-be rock star who lands up teaching in a prep school.
There's only one way the show can go when fake teacher Dewey Finn focusses on music to find the soul in his earnest young pupils, and they end up competing in a 'Battle of the Bands' competition.
The interesting combination of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Julian Fellowes have produced a musical which provides an entertaining night out, with the cast of child actors the real stars of the show.
Jake Sharp as Dewey Finn, masquerading as teacher Mr Scheebly, gives an energetic performance and raises laughs from the younger element of the audience with a touch of toilet humour.
Maybe this didn't help me to quite warm to him, but there's no doubt he's a powerful singer and musician. Despite being on stage throughout most of the show, he never showed a hint of exhaustion.
Mr Scheebly manages to bind his class of 12 pupils at Horace Green school into a real team, with the 'You're in the Band' song being one of the most memorable as each child is allocated their role in his rock band.
There's no real let up from the music, with 28 songs keeping the audience rocking throughout. A recording from Mr Lloyd Webber himself points out at the start that the children are all playing live instruments.
There's an alternate cast of 42 children playing the part of the youngsters. During opening night, drummer Emerson Sutton (Freddy) and guitarist William Laborde (Zack) were my personal favourites. Souparnika Nair as Tomika also had an angelic voice and captivated the audience as she auditioned for her part in the band.
School principal Miss Mullins, played by Rebecca Lock, was another fantastic singer and it's no surprise to reveal that Dewey manages to loosen some of her inhibitions in Act Two.
While this show might not be to everyone's taste, it does touch on themes of ambitions, class, being your own person and growing up. So as well as two hours of raucous music, it does give you something to think about.
My thoughts as I left turned to the songs I'd still be humming in the morning, with 'Stick it to the Man' being the standout candidate.
The Wimbledon audience gave the show their thumbs-up, with a standing ovation after the show's finale - 'Queen of the Night'.
Mon 21 March - Sat 26 March
93 The Broadway, Wimbledon, London SW19 1QG
2 hours 30 minutes incl. interval
Tue - Sat at 19:30
Thu and Sat at 14:30
By Sue Choularton
March 22, 2022