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"Loud, raucous and brimming with energy": School of Rock at the Lyceum

The real stars of School of Rock were the children, who sing and play live on stage, says reviewer Paul Szabo.

27 July 2022 at
School of Rock
Paul Coltas

When Dewey Finn’s bandmates kick him out of rock band “No Vacancy” shortly before the Battle of the Bands competition he is desperate to win, he does what any wannabe rock star does…. he gets a job by pretending to be a substitute teacher at a prestigious finishing school. But after overhearing his young pupils in a music lesson, he realises that they can certainly play their instruments, and with the Battle of the Band competition looming, he sets about turning his reluctant class of straight-A students into the ultimate rockers.

Whilst the kids find their confidence, their voices and their talents, Dewey slowly falls for the uptight headmistress, Miss Mullins, who couldn’t be more different to him.

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical finishes off its first UK tour in Sheffield, and the show, written by Julian Fellowes is a terrific family night out. It’s loud, raucous and brimming with a real energy that you can’t help but get caught up in.

School of Rock
Paul Coltas

Jake Sharp certainly fits the bill in his role as Dewey, with a seemingly unending energy and enough charisma to get the audience quickly on his side, whilst Rebecca Lock was in fine voice as the strict headmistress, Miss Mullins.

But the real stars of the show were youngsters portraying the class of children, and as a pre-recorded message from Lloyd Webber stated at the start of the show, “Do the kids actually play their instruments live on stage? The answer is an emphatic yes”.

The youngsters were ridiculously talented and, alongside Sharp and Lock, they far outshone the remainder of the mediocre adult cast. With the young cast playing guitars that, quite frankly, were bigger than they were, belting out the tunes and singing and dancing their way through the show, they were the real stars of the production and they were wholly impressive.

In a script that was peppy and bounded along at a terrific pace there were plenty of laughs to be had and some nice background stories of the children and their parents that emerge. These include the businessman who won’t put his phone down long enough to speak to his son, the pushy parents who move their daughter to a new school against her will and the beer swilling “man’s man” forcing his gay son to watch sports with him, although some of the stereotypes portrayed on stage sit a little uncomfortably and you have to wonder what place they have in such a modern production.

The message about making time for your children is a little heavy handed and handled in a slightly overly sentimental fashion, but the performances of the children make them believable enough to tug a little at the heartstrings.

Overall, the show was loud, entertaining and fun; easily sweeping the audience along in its charms and bringing the crowd to its feet for the boisterous, final rendition of “Stick it to the Man.” There is an abundance of adults acting like kids, and of kids acting like adults, but there is also a warm story of finding yourself, believing in others and that success can come in many forms.

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