School Of Rock is a story we know all too well. The record breaking blockbuster that starred Jack Black has become a cult classic with it’s “stick it to the man” and “you’re tacky and I hate you” quotes still being referenced sixteen years after it’s release.
Adding to it’s legacy is a musical adaption which opened on Broadway in 2015. Finally making it’s way down under, the Australian touring adaption of the musical is currently in Brisbane at the QPAC for an exclusive six week run.
With a few technical issues plaguing the opening scene of the show that involved the movement of the set, they carried on with the show in a professional matter and quickly made you forget about the shaky start.
The story of School Of Rock follows a middle aged Dewey Finn who has no life direction. His only passion is music. In particular, rock music. And it’s the only thing that drives him to want to have a future. When his band members kick him out and his housemates threaten to evict him if he doesn’t pay rent soon he is accidentally met with an offer to teach a class at a prestigious and elite school which will save all of his problems. The offer was intended for his housemate Ned Schneebly but that doesn’t stop Dewy who imposes as him to earn a cheque that will save him from being evicted.
Discovering the kids in his class have serious musical talent, he takes it upon himself to enrol them into the Battle Of The Bands that his previous band is entering and educates them on rock n roll which they seem to have no understanding about. This turns into a hilarious and heartwarming tale of his love for music colliding with a love for the children and education appearing.
The musical adaption of this story sees contemporary and rock inspired songs assisting the storyline with the energetic ‘Stick It To The Man’ and ‘School Of Rock’ (Teachers Pet) immediately standing out throughout the production. But it was one of the shows most unexpected musical moments that really impressed the audience. The country rock ballad ‘Where Did The Rock Go’ that Principal Mullins performs in the dive bar with Dewy was an authentic moment that allowed her vocal runs to be showcased and also highlighted a vulnerable side of rock. It was a musical number that was really needed to show a contrast in this production and it was because of that, that it stood out as something fresh.
The casting of this show was incredibly strong with each performer tapping into the unique characterisation that made the original movie so memorable. Dewey was hilarious, slick and quick with his ad-libs while Summer was as pretentious and likeable as you wanted her to be and Ned was the ultimate push over. Every character was strong in their own ways and brought something unique to the stage. The actress of Tomika delivered an applaud worthy rendition of ‘Amazing Grace’ that highlighted her insane talent at her young age.
And that was another thing that stood out about this show. With the majority of the cast being children, you could expect there to be some flaws in vocal delivery and choreography but this children cast is just as professional as some of Australia’s most well known musical theatre names. The collective of children were stronger than the Matilda cast by far and really left the audience highly impressed at multiple times throughout the show. They even play all of their instruments live during the show which is a even bigger feat, that a lot of musical theatre actors and actresses would struggle doing.
Bringing the school and live staging to life, the revolving walls and sets were huge and kept the theatrical elements enlarged. There were a lot of strong comparisons in the scripting and delivery to the original movie but there were also modern up to date references that made this adaption fresh and engaging.
With this being a family friendly musical, the only thing that let it down was the long 90 minute first half that saw some children around me getting a little irritated by having to sit still for that long. But otherwise they’ve managed to create a really engaging and strong live show that even encouraged audience members to get their phones out at the end of the show and take pictures of the final scene which is unheard of in the musical theatre world.
School Of Rock is now playing at the QPAC until August 18. Tickets are available at https://www.qpac.com.au/event/school_of_rock_19/