School Of Rock was exactly what we needed to light up a dark January night - a fabulous feel good show with a cracking soundtrack and some stunning performances from children still knee high to a Fendor Stratocaster guitar.
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s stage show is based on the Jack Black hit film from 2003, and serves up a night of superb entertainment. Who knew His Phantom-ness would team up with Downton Abbey’s Julian Fellowes and rock quite so hard!
The story is a celebration of the power of music - rock music - and how truly great songs cut across audiences.
Press night saw many families in the theatre, but, look closer, and you spotted a Guns & Roses denim jacket here, and AC/DC tour t-shirt there - there was even one fella standing proudly in his Metallica top. I’m sure there was also a few air guitars around too!
It took me back to the days when the Playhouse was a bona fide rock venue, and hosted bands every other night.
School Of Rock - on its first UK tour - captures the excitement of those gigs, and how music can shape young lives.
Jake Sharp heads the cast with a hugely energetic performance as Dewey Finn, a wannabe rock star who nicks his mate’s teaching credentials to make a few quid at a posh school, and ends up transforming lives by turning them into a band.
He also shares the stage with a ridiculously talented bunch of youngsters who sing, dance, act AND play live as they perform in a Battle of the Bands showcase. Field trips were never this awesome when I was at school!
They all deserve a credit so take a bow: Thomas Harvey (Freddy), Daisy Hanna (Katie), Angus McDougall (Lawrence), Harry Churchill (Zack), Hadlee Snow (James), Jemima Newman (Sophie), Wilf Cooper (Billy), Florrie May Wilkinson (Summer), Souparnika Nair (Tomika), Caelan Wallington (Mason), Elodie Salmon (Marcy), and Kyla Robinson (Shonelle).
They raise the roof and jump around the stage with boundless enthusiasm, while Rebecca Lock is a great foil for Sharp as the prim, proper headmistress with a secret passion for the music of Stevie Nicks.
Her poignant lament Where Did The Rock Go is also another stand-out moment in this show.
The music score revolves around ‘Stick It To The Man’ - it’s as much a statement of intent as a catchy chorus - and, in common with all feel-good musicals, this ends up with everyone on their feet for one more encore.
The audience loved it, the cast loved it … and more than a few folk were humming the mantra of stick it to the man as they headed into the night.
> School Of Rock, Edinburgh Playhouse until Saturday