School Of Rock Musical Doesn't Exactly Rock

School of Rock, New London Theatre ★★★☆☆

Sophia Shluger
By Sophia Shluger Last edited 17 months ago

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School Of Rock Musical Doesn't Exactly Rock School of Rock, New London Theatre 3
© Tristram Kenton

Andrew Lloyd Webber's School of Rock may strike a chord with kids — but it hits plenty of bum notes along the way.

Cast out from his band, deadbeat rocker Dewey Finn (played by David Flynn who delights in his imitation of Jack Black from the 2003 movie) becomes hellbent on re-establishing himself on the circuit by winning a battle of bands contest. Unable to pay the rent, Finn lands himself a teaching gig — and discovers some unlikely band mates in the process.

Like the story, the choreography is simple. Even then, they manage to get it wrong; one awkward moment has Finn spun around above a Marshall speaker, detracting from the song, as we wonder whether or not he's going to come crashing to the floor.  

To his credit, Flynn keeps the energy high throughout. But after some time, even his passion — characterised by sweaty, breathless guitar playing — is not enough to make up for the lack of deeper emotional moments.

© Tristram Kenton

There are a few gems; like when Finns's best mate Ned plays Guitar Hero with him, and when Finn vividly acts out his dream of rocking out on stage.

But mostly, the dramatic moments of this musical miss the beat, and when Ned finally confronts his Finn-nagging girlfriend Patty, it doesn’t pack the emphatic punch it needs.

The second half of School of Rock upstages the temporally-languishing first: here we get more of the 'sticking it to the man' message (somewhat ironic perhaps, coming from Lord Lloyd-Webber), and the outstanding Florence Andrews (playing the school principal) shines with her solo Where Did the Rock Go?.

School of Rock is loud and unapologetic (so ideal for kids), has a high cheese factor and packs a large dose of adorable, with the cast of school students playing instruments mostly the same size as them (they perform live and do a great job of it too). But adults looking for more than a Jack Black impersonator, a handful of rock standards and a sprinkling of prodigious kids, should look elsewhere.

School of Rock is at the New London Theatre on an open run. Tickets £30-£105. Londonist saw this show on a complimentary ticket.

Last Updated 21 November 2016