Andrew Lloyd Webber’s award-winning School of Rock arrived at the Liverpool Empire Theatre last night (July 5) as part of its UK tour.
The musical is based on the iconic movie starring Jack Black, who plays wannabe rock star Dewey Finn. In desperate need of cash, he poses as a substitute music teacher at a posh prep school and teaches his students all about the world of rock to later perform in the Battle of the Bands competition.
For those who haven’t seen the hit 2004 film, there’s no cause for concern. This musical offers a foot-stomping replica with a few musical adaptations from the king Andrew Lloyd Webber himself. Since the tour launched in Hull last September, Jake Sharp has led the cast as Dewey Finn, and for a good reason too.
Everything about his performance was tremendous, from the overexaggerated Jack Black-esque expressions to the excessive eyebrow raises. Sharp can hit some serious notes, with an undeniable amount of energy no one could ever match - not even after a few Red Bulls.
The cast consists of Rebecca Lock as Rosalie Mullins, Matthew Rowland as Ned Schneebly and Nadia Violet Johnson as Patty Di Marco. Not forgetting just some of the remaining adult cast, who are played by Ryan Bearpark (Mr. Mooneyham), James Bisp (Mr. Hamilton), Joanna O'Hare (Mrs. Turner), Samuel Haughton (Mr. Williams), (Ms. Bingham) Helena Pipe (Ms. Sheinkphf) and Craig Watson (Mr. Spencer/Doug).
We need to talk about the children in the performance though, because they were absolutely phenomenal. Let’s just say, I wish I had talent like them when I was their age, their ability to play musical instruments and sing is jaw-droppingly impressive.
Kaylenn Aires Fonseca who plays lovable, sassy Billy, delivers the classic line “you’re tacky and I hate you” perfectly, and has a hilarious stage presence throughout the performance. Daisy Hanna, who plays bass player Katie, has a fabulous pouting ‘bass face’ and plays the role perfectly, not to mention Harry Churchill as Zack, who delivers countless incredible guitar solos.
The children and adult cast fit together perfectly to perform a production that consists of topical jokes, top tier rock music and generally great chemistry on stage. Rebecca Lock, who plays Principal of Horace Green Rosalie Mullins, hits the nail on the head in portraying a stern yet loveable character who can sing beautifully, with little effort required.
Throughout the performance I found myself singing along and having a giggle. It’s worth mentioning the disruption towards the end of Act 1 though, as the Liverpool Empire theatre was evacuated due to a "false alarm".
Although no details were revealed as the cast were dramatically removed from stage mid performance, they still managed to deliver an amazing Act 2 despite the minor hiccup. The second half of the show made up for the waiting in the cold.
For those who love School of Rock the film, or just a feel-good musical with added rock and roll, you need to go and see this show. You’ll be laughing, singing and dancing throughout this joyful triumph.
The show will run at the Empire until Saturday July 9. There are still tickets up for grabs here.
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