How does An­drew Lloyd Web­ber turn the much-loved film School of Rock into a mu­si­cal? asks Sarah Riches

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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.

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