Review: School of Rock at Leeds Grand Theatre

Can you believe it’s almost twenty whole years since the film School of Rock first hit the silver screen? It’s been one of my very favourite films for almost two decades, and the musical version is an absolute must-see for any fellow fans – or any music lover out there.

The uplifting show follows down-and-out musician Dewey Finn as he kids himself and all those around him that the upcoming Battle of the Bands will be his big break. When he sneaks into a job at prep school Horace Green pretending to be his best mate and housemate Ned Schneebly, Dewey meets a group of talented kids who’ll change his life. Each with their own insecurities, stories to tell and instruments to play, the School Of Rock is born and together the group decide to defy the odds and win the Battle of the Bands… what can possibly go wrong?

Jake Sharp leads the cast as Dewey Finn, a role originated by Jack Black in the film version. Jake Sharp brings cheeky sparkle to the role, creating a believable slobby musician who gradually turns his life around and realises his students have just as much to teach him as he does them. He interacts with the kids beautifully, allowing them to take centre stage when the time’s right, yet tying the whole vibe together with his rocking stage presence and fabulous singing voice.

Rebecca Lock is also a star within the adult cast as formidable head teacher Rosalie Mullins. She holds her tightly-strung character together with just the right amount of vulnerability to stay utterly believable throughout. Her solo, Where Did The Rock Go, is a beautiful moment of the show.

Of course, our stars of the show are the kids of Horace Green. The young cast are simply remarkable. They’d be incredible if they were miming playing their instruments, but when you find out they’re playing live throughout… it’s jaw-dropping, honestly.

I particularly love Eva Mcgrath’s performance, as she puts her own completely unique spin on the usually male-cast role of Freddy. That said, each and every member of the young cast are absolute stars regardless of their age. To maintain that level of high octane energy until the very last number takes an incredible amount of strength and dedication, and it’s clear from the roaring applause that the audience has loved every second.

School of Rock is a unique show that pounds along with such pace and energy it completely sweeps you along in its rhythm. I won’t spoil the ending but, unlike so many musicals, School of Rock truly crescendos and brings everything together in an unforgettable finale.

Don’t miss the show, on at Leeds Grand Theatre until 9th April.

Photograph credited to Paul Coltas

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