How does Andrew Lloyd Webber turn the much-loved film School of Rock into a musical? asks Sarah Riches
Enjoy a night of rock and roll with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new musical, School of Rock.
Get your air guitars ready, because a new musical is set to rock the capital. School
of Rock: The Musical will open at the New London Theatre (14 Nov), with new music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and familiar tunes from the hit 2003 movie it’s based on.
Richard Linklater directed the original film starring Jack Black as the kind-hearted loser Dewey. To make ends meet, the wannabe rock star poses as a substitute teacher at an exclusive high school. After discovering his students are musically gifted, they form a rock group and enter a Battle of the Bands competition. But can they rise to the challenge before his cover is blown?
The musical features choreography by JoAnn M Hunter and is directed by Laurence Connor, who’s got more than one string to his bow – he’s previously directed Les Miserables, Miss Saigon, Oliver!, Jesus Christ Superstar and The Phantom of the Opera. The lyrics, meanwhile, are written by Glenn Slater, who co-created Disney’s Tangled, The Little Mermaid and Sister Act the Musical.
Connor says: ‘I am a huge fan of rock music. I grew up listening to it and used to have hair halfway down my back! I have loved bands like Aerosmith, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden and AC/DC since I was a kid and I haven’t really grown out of them.
‘ Working on School of Rock: The Musical with Andrew [Lloyd Webber] was the most collaborative work of my life. We have similar tastes and worked closely on every level. He has an incredible vinyl record collection of obscure bands, so we had fun playing music and coming up with ideas.’
The main characters will be joined on stage by three teams of 13 young British performers. Connor says: ‘Finding three teams was always going to be hard; we sat through hours of auditions searching for our hopefuls. All the hours were worth it though because we have fantastic children for the production. ‘ The main challenge is scheduling because the amount of time you have with them as they juggle their schooling is never enough. It means you have to make the most of what you have and not waste a single second. ‘It is inspiring to see children create live music. One child heard the show was coming to London and worked tirelessly to be good enough to audition. His hard work paid off as he’ll play Freddie when the show opens in London.’ With such a stellar cast and crew, it’s no wonder that the show has been nominated for four Tony Awards – Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score and Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical – since its world premiere on Broadway in November 2015. With so many accolades, you know this musical will be a winner! For full listing, turn to p. 44
From 19 Nov: Glee star Amber Riley plays Effie White in this musical about the tumultuous journey of a young female singing trio from Chicago (p. 44). Check for times. Tickets £18-£ 72.50. www.savoytheatre.org. Savoy Theatre, Strand, WC2R 0ET. T: 0844- 871 7687. E8. Station: Covent Garden.