I had some concerns about seeing School of Rock; I hadn’t seen the film, though as The Lion King, Aladdin, Spamalot, the upcoming American in Paris are amongst many screen to stage adaptations that have worked it wasn’t a valid concern. I was anxious about all the children that would be on stage but again, Billy Elliott and Matilda are both shows that have excellent child actors. Plus, America had made a shocking decision and it was going to take a lot to cheer me up.
School of Rock did just that, the opening, in contrast to The Lion King, feels very cold. We see a character we do not yet know performing with a band we do not care about and School of Rock doesn’t really get going until Dewey Finn (David Flynn) finds himself teaching in a posh school pretending to be his teacher friend Ned Schneebly (Oliver Jackson) who he owes rent and Schneebly’s girlfriend Patty (Preeya Kalidas, most well-known for Eastenders and Bend It Like Beckham the musical) isn’t willing to tolerate Dewey’s slacking any longer. This fantastic adaptation by Julian Fellowes more than makes up for the slow start by keeping up the energy and not expecting its audience to know the film or even much of the story. Fellowes has also created a show that I hope lots of young people will perform in clubs and schools and really get behind. Downton Abbey this isn’t!