Theatre

School Of Rock At The Alhambra Theatre Review

TICKETS TO SEE THE SHOW WERE GIFTED TO THE REVIEWER AND GUEST FOR THE PURPOSES OF WRITING THE REVIEW.

This musical comedy will knock your socks off!

Last night I took my six-year-old daughter to Bradford’s Alhambra Theatre to see her first ever musical. And what a start to her musical theatre education it was! ‘School of Rock’ is a high-energy comedy that showcases the talent of some proper fantastic kids (and some pretty proficient grown-ups too).

Based on the hugely successful, 2003 film of the same name, ‘School of Rock’ tells the story of Dewey, a layabout with big musical dreams who impersonates a pal to take on the role of substitute teacher at a super posh school, to earn the money he needs to pay his rent.

Dewey plans to kick back and let the kids fend for themselves but when he discovers his class have real musical talent, he takes their classical roots and cleverly converts them into Rockstars, even smuggling them out of school to take part in a Battle of the Bands.

‘School of Rock’ is non-stop fun and has a lovely, lighthearted feel. But it also has huge potential to inspire youngsters. Not only did my daughter appreciate the performance, I could see that it could be the source of encouragement into not only the world of musical instruments but into just being and believing in yourself.

It’s a strange feeling that ‘School of Rock’ along with my first musical ‘Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat’, as well as one of my favourites ‘Phantom of the Opera’ all feature music composed by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber. This rock musical is real testament to an already undebatable talent. Show favourites ‘You’re in the Band’ and ‘Stick it to the Man’ are real earworms, with tunes that make you want to headbang, toetap and bounce around and lyrics by Glenn Slater that have you joining in the very first time you hear them.

Jake Sharp plays the role of Dewey Finn with no inhibition; a real requirement for a character who is in the habit of allowing his belly to flop around freely. For me, Jake’s comedic performance surpassed his vocal ability; though I suspect it was more the style of the songs that weren’t all fully favoured by my ears that waiver my judgement. With a couple of songs, I found it hard to catch all the lyrics set against the big, booming emphasised volume and power of the rock band. But ignore me, I’m clearly not down with the kids.

Jake definitely has the power to reassure his team of twelve, talented pre-teens and help guide them through the two-hour show. (Infact, his team extends far beyond that as there’s actually three groups of 12 children). His energy more than matches up to the extremely enthusiastic younger members of the cast.

With such a strong line-up of kids, it was tough to pick a favourite but I did have a bit of a soft spot for Wilf Cooper’s portrayal of the flamboyant, effeminate Billy; self-proclaimed Stylist to the Band.

My favourite performance was Rebecca Lock’s ‘Where did the Rock go?’ Rebecca stars as Rosalie Mullins, the school’s uptight Headteacher. Her soft yet incredibly strong soprano voice creates a gentle, welcome reprieve from the hard rock numbers and offers quite the change in mood as it sets the scene for a little romance.

And hot on the heels of Rebecca Lock and her multitude of West End credits comes Souparnika Nair as Tomika; the shy student whose heartfelt rendition of ‘If only you would listen’ totally tugged the heartstrings of the audience.

A voiceover introduction to the show from Sir Andrew himself pre-empts the question ‘Do the children actually play the instruments live on stage?’ I was glad I was given a resounding big ‘yes’ as an answer before I’d even thought to ask the question as it made me more tuned in to the talent. The kids played guitars almost as big as them, banged out a right beat on the drums and charmed the keys right off the keyboard. Amazing.

The set design is simply superb and the kids did a spectacularly seamless job of moving desks and chalkboards around the stage to help the story transition from classroom to Dewey’s bedroom to a bar. The lighting at first seemed a little out of synch, with spotlights a little slow to land on singers, but as the show went on, the timing seemed to improve.

If your choice of music is perhaps a little more middle of the road, when it comes to deciding on whether to see this musical – don’t knock it before you rock it. This is a big, brash beast of a musical with a soft, squidgy heart. I guarantee it’ll rock your socks off!

Rating: 4 out of 5

‘School of Rock’ runs at the Alhambra Theatre until Saturday 30th October. Visit https://www.bradford-theatres.co.uk/whats-on/school-of-rock
Tickets are priced between £25.50 & £48.
The production is set to tour the UK until August 2022. See all the tour dates @ https://www.bradford-theatres.co.uk/whats-on/school-of-rock

The Alhambra Theatre in Bradford is easy to reach by public transport and by car. There are several car parks within walking distance of the theatre.

We also enjoyed a pre-theatre meal at the Theatre’s Restaurant ‘1914’. With views over City Park and a seasonal menu full of tempting dishes, it was a lovely spot for a pre-show bite to eat. The Kids’ Menu offers a fantastic two courses for £5.95, whilst the full menu is a little more on the expensive side. However, we both enjoyed the food and the service was good too.

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