By Lilian Harrington
Pictured above from (left to right) Thomas Armstrong–Robley, Cael Armitage, Zoe Hitchcock, Zara Kan, Makenzi Goodwin, Lucas Van Stam
School of Rock – The Musical
Based on the Paramount movie by Mike White
Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, lyrics by Glenn Slater, book by Julian Fellowes
Directed by Madeleine Johns
Redcliffe Musical Theatre and ROAR Academy
Redcliffe Entertainment Centre Centre (Downs St. Redcliffe)
Season: from 9 to 18 July. Bookings: www.redcliffemusicaltheatre.com/schoolofrock or 07 3283 0407
Andrew Lloyd Webber has written many successful Broadway hits, and School of Rock the Musical, based on the 2003 film, written by Mike White, is no exception! It is a light-hearted, youth oriented comedy, pertinent to our contemporary situation; And now that there are so many “performing musos” out of work, due to the worldwide pandemic, it serves as a timely reminder that many have to seek work using their skills in other ways.
School of Rock tells of an out of work musician, Dewey Finn, played by Thomas Armstrong –Robley, who has been sacked by his own band and is now in desperate need of an income; Using his friend Ned Sheebley’s (Dominic Bradley) qualification details, he poses as a trained substitute teacher, and gains a job at a prestigious prep school, where he coaches a group of A grade students into becoming a band of hard core rock artists, and enters them into the Battle of the Bands Contest; this outcome both angers and flaws both their parents and very principled school staff, but they are left astounded by the class’s achievement in modern music.
Director Madeleine Johns, president and founder of Redcliffe Musical Theatre (R.M.T). and the Roar Academy for Youth for 11 years, has carefully crafted and structured this musical, and has coordinated a truly memorable presentation, together with choreographers Taylah McClennan and Jasmine Reese, and the talented vocal coaching of Meg Kiddle, Madeleine’s vision has provided young local talent, with an opportunity to realise their dreams and goals on stage and showcase their skills through music, song and dance.
School of Rock stars the energetic and talented Thomas Armstrong-Robley. He is a locally trained artist, who has spent time in Europe and on Cruise ships, performing and singing, prior to COVID. Earlier this year, Thomas starred in Jersey Boys for R.M.T, as Tommy Devito. In School of Rock his characterisation of Dewey Finn, the unorthodox, untrained teacher in Horace Greene Prep School, working with straight A students, along with his music skills, versatility and high- energy level, is quite cataclysmic!
He is supported by the beautiful vocals and talents of Georgia Burnett (Rosalie Mullins) Head Teacher, at the Horace Greene Prep School. Georgia’s clear diction and stage experience clearly impact the production and compliment the show. She provides a model for young standouts such as Jake Murdoch (Zack) a budding instrumentalist, singer /song writer, Zara Kan (Katie ) bass player, along with Racheal Noskoff ( Summer), the Band Manager, and Kayla Pehi ( Tomika ),soloist , whose beautiful vocals capture the hearts of the audience especially in her solo, set in Act 2 at Dewey Finn’s house.
The efforts of the keen, youngsters in the school band are in sharp contrast to the somewhat dull and heavy images of parents and staff, who are depicted in drab costumes and present with a sombre image, quite different in style to the young students.
The joint team work from both cast and production crew, provides a special energy and vibe to this show; it is only marred at times by some opening night production technical issues and sound level hiccups, which impacted on dialogue and singing in places.
School of Rock plays for a limited season at the Redcliffe Entertainment Centre; it is a thoroughly inspirational, minimalised production, and showcases the emerging talent in the Redcliffe community.