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An Interview with School of Rock's Gary Trainor

By James Astles
Tuesday 29 August 2017

Based on the hit 2003 Jack Black comedy film, the musical stage version of School Of Rock opened on Broadway in winter 2015.  The West End production opened in November 2016 and has been a firm favourite since then, recently extending its run through 2018 and into early 2019.  We caught up with the star of the show, Gary Trainor, who rocks out in the central role.

An Interview with School of Rock's Gary Trainor

You've been with the show since it opened in London, originally as the alternate Dewey Finn three nights a week.  You've been the main lead since mid-May this year, now doing five shows.  It's such a high octane, spirited part - how do you keep your energy up?
When on stage the energy is instantly found, the adrenaline and buzz I get from playing the role bhoys me through, it's off stage I need to focus on preparing, eating the right slow release foods and getting a lot of rest to recuperate for the next show. 
 
I believe you were so determined to get the role that you even wrote letters to Andrew Lloyd Webber and Julian Fellowes asking to be considered for the part.  What made you so passionate about the role?
I have loved the film since it came out and even used to quote Jack Black when I was at school, so the fact that I was the right age, the right casting type and working in musical theatre when I heard the show was coming to London I had this unshakable belief that that part was mine. I just had no idea how I would get it! So I tortured my agents CBL Mgmt to find out who was casting it how I could get seen etc, and in the mean time, I thought I'd send letters to ALW and JF on the off chance that they'd see it and give me a chance! 
 
They say never work with animals or children - would you at least disagree with the latter?
I most certainly would, I have been in complete admiration of the young actors in our show, the level of professionalism that comes from them is truly impressive so much so that it is easy to forget they are between the ages of 9-12! 
 
Are you a big kid at heart?
Yep, that would sum me up pretty well, and playing Dewey gives you complete license to embrace that feeling to the hilt! I don't think I'll ever grow up, my mum laughed at me when she came to see the show a week ago as I was wearing a Fred Flinstone t-shirt around town!

Did you ever have any aspirations to be a teacher yourself?
My only aspiration to teach was in dark days when as an actor I was in a 'resting' period which is a nice way of saying I was broke and thinking of giving up, but I don't think I have the skill or patience that being an actual teacher demands.

What's your favourite song to perform in the show?
I really like Mount Rock, it's the most exposing song for Dewey as it's him telling the audience his dreams.

In the US where the stage version originated they opened up the youth production rights for the show to be performed in schools.   This was later opened up to UK schools as part of The Next Generation programme.   Would you be up for catching some school performances in the future?
I very nearly got to see a school production that my friend from drama school directed at her school, I went in to see them rehearse one day but on performance week my schedule wouldn't let me get to see them. I would love to see school productions of the show. I think it was a great idea for ALW to release the rights for it.

What three words do you hope describe how the audience feels after seeing the show?
Awestruck, energised, happy 

School Of Rock is currently booking at the New London Theatre until 13 January 2019

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James Astles

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