School of Rock – Review – Leeds Grand Theatre

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By Sandra Callard, April 2022

Possibly the most physically demanding and noisiest show anywhere in the country at the moment, School of Rock is a loud, wild and chaotic piece of theatre, that has a badly dressed and overweight singer as its male lead, but one who takes hold of the stage and owns every second of it.

Jake Sharp plays singer Dewey Finn. He is an out or work musician who has been kicked out of a band because of his extreme music, and takes a temporary job in a posh school as a music teacher to a load of equally posh kids. He quite simply and brilliantly teaches them how to play heavy rock; big, loud, screaming rock ‘n roll, and the audience were enraptured by the show, which was happily and mainly filled by long time fans of the heavy rock style. I knew this because of the numerous heads which were nodding in time to the music throughout the show and the thunderous applause at the end.

school of rock review leeds grand 2022

“Joy to watch”

I was surprised to find that the music was written by Andrew Lloyd Webber, and further surprised that the book was written by Downton Abbey author and creator, Julian Fellow. These esteemed names behind the throne certainly notch up interest – and, yes, that was because I initially thought that the show might be a raucous and unpleasant offering. But I was wrong, wrong, wrong.

It turned out to be a gloriously unexpected show for me. It was funny, clever and incredibly lovely, which was totally down to the hard working and talented cast and the really wonderful kids from the posh school. They were an absolute joy to watch and their talent stood out like a lantern of youth and joy, especially as Lloyd Webber’s voice told the audience before the show began that everything the kids did, said, played or sang was entirely their own, with no voices dubbed at all. These children were on stage for possibly some 75% of the time and never put a food wrong or faltered in any way. They sang, played their instruments, acted and spoke with an assurance that must bode well for their future careers.

school of rock review leeds grand theatre

“Noisy and fun”

Mention must be made of the pitch perfect performance of Rosalie Mullins who wavered between the sharp and proper Rebecca Lock, head of the posh school, and the heady joy of singing, which she did with the surprising perfection of a brilliant operatic voice as she allowed herself to fall for Dewey Finn. Her total performance was superb as she varied her role and was totally believable as she gradually changed from female dragon to joyful partner.

This show is possible one of the most difficult for the performers as it is non-stop in its movement, speech and song. When I say movement I mean hard physical ones such as jumping from furniture and literally throwing themselves about.

This is a boistrous, noisy and fun show with a raft of totally professional performances from everyone on stage. Give it a try, but maybe take some ear plugs!

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