Review: School of Rock The Musical, Edinburgh Playhouse ***

Air guitars at the ready – it’s time to join the coolest kids in town as the School of Rock rolls into Edinburgh Playhouse.

Based on the hit Noughties movie of the same name, School of Rock The Musical tells the story of a down-on-his-luck musician, Dewey Finn, who fraudulently finds work at a top private school by posing as his teacher roommate, Ned Schneebly. Dewey knows nothing about teaching or kids, so instead brings his true passion to the classroom and gives the kids an education in rock and roll.

With a score composed by the legendary Andrew Lloyd Webber, you would be forgiven for thinking this production was going to be a top tier musical. But let’s be clear about one thing, Andrew Lloyd Webber is no punk rocker. The songs in the show are pretty forgettable, except for the big finale ‘School of Rock’ song but that comes from the film. Lloyd Webber even incorporates some ballads into the production which feels disjointed and certainly not very punk.

While the musical script stays relatively true to the movie, fans will also be disappointed to know that barely any classic rock songs make it into the stage production – there’s no Led Zeppelin, no Ramones and no AC/DC. The musical tiptoes around the great artists it professes to love, likely due to licensing but it still feels like a loss for the show.

Score aside and it is certainly the cast that makes this musical work. Taking on a role like Dewey Finn made famous by movie star Jack Black is no easy feat but Jake Sharp nails his performance as the wannabe rock star. While channelling Jack Black’s energy and delivery, Sharp brings his own to the role and is the perfect lead. He clearly works well with his young co-stars too and is a delight to watch.

And of course School of Rock would be nothing without the band and these unbelievably talented kids are all superstars in the making. They play their instruments throughout, sing, dance and act their socks off. The show is worth going to just to see these kids rock out. 

Although the score largely lacks the punk rock you would hope for, School of Rock The Musical is still a fun production and one that will certainly inspire mini rockstars.

School of Rock The Musical is on at Edinburgh Playhouse until Saturday 29 January 2022. Tickets are available at AGT TIckets.

Words: Aimee Stanton

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