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Rugby Theatre's School of Rock - Rocks!

Stick It To The Man rehearse their performance

School of Rock, Rugby Theatre from 9 – 18 June 2023

Review by Ann Evans

Wow! What a show! If I start this review by describing the audience reaction at the end – where practically the whole of the packed auditorium are on their feet clapping, cheering and whoo-hooing, you’ll gather that the kids and adults in this production completely nailed it!

Team Mount Rock: Drummer Riley Withall.

This is one tremendous show that although starts with the adult rock band, No Vacancy where we see star of the show, Dewey Finn (Matt Watson in Team ‘Stick It To The Man’, Wil Neale in Team ‘Mount Rock’), getting fired from the band, this rock number is merely a shadow of what’s to come.

Katie on bass, Mabel Watson and Dewey, Matt Watson.

Dewey is now out of a job with no money coming in to pay the rent at his best friend Ned Schneebly’s (Adrian Wilson) girlfriend’s flat. (Patty played by Laura Hunt). So, when an opportunity lands at his feet to pretend to be Ned and work at the prestigious Horace Green Prep School, he goes for it, blagging every step of the way. For the prim and proper teachers and pupils at Horace Green, life will never be the same!

Team Mount Rock: Dewey Finn played by Wil Neale gets his class rocking.

You’ll read in the programme how Director, Kenny Robinson wanted to get across the emotion of how frustrated kids get when they feel that parents aren’t listening to them, and don’t allow them to express themselves and show their full potential. And this comes across so powerfully in the song, If Only You Would Listen.

The Head Teacher leads the class in their school anthem.

What I found to be wonderful about this production was how the characters developed – even Dewey who starts off being pretty selfish and useless, and gradually becomes this passionate, inspirational figure – even his singing becomes more powerful with every song!

Head teacher Miss Mullins (Libby Lowe) with some of Mount Rock class.

Special mention also to Head teacher Rosalie Mullins (Libby Lowe) who has the most beautiful soprano voice, and prim and proper she may be at the start, it’s still a joy to listen to as she leads the music class in the school’s anthem Horace Green Alma Mater. But in Act 2 when she sings Where Did the Rock Go, with such emotion, she brought the house down with the applause.

Libby Lowe as Miss Mullins.

As for the students – every one of them totally excelled, as their character’s personalities gradually burst through. On the opening night it was Class ‘Stick It To The Man’ but I can assure you Class of ‘Mount Rock’ will be just as good. The youngsters’ singing throughout was fantastic – special mention to Tomika (Ruth Odell) whose rendition of Amazing Grace was fabulous. In class ‘Mount Rock’ it will be Emmie Bacon taking this role.

Team Mount Rock.

It wasn’t just their singing, it was their acting, their dancing, their timing and the way they delivered their lines – you could hear every word. Plus, the Band performed live on stage, playing bass, drums, guitar and keyboard. ‘Stick It To The Man’ team feature: Mabel Watson, Rafferty Jones, Dexter Robinson and Poppy Goodwin. And ‘Mount Rock’ team are: Saffron Teale, Riley Withall, Louis Mailott and Timothy Arulra. Additionally, out of sight in the orchestra pit was live on keys and MD Jon Watson-Tate, Keys Rob Murray, Guitars Chris Loach, Pete Hurst, Lloyd Griffiths, Bass Sunim Koria and Drums Dave Shipley.

Dexter Robinson as Zack

The youngster’s enthusiasm – and skills will steal your hearts, and there’s lots of comedy throughout – my favourite, once the kids were all given jobs as members of the band was Billy (Joel Tyler) – especially when they were pretending to be ill. Great scene! Very funny!

Wil Neale as Dewey in Mount Rock, and Adrian Wilson as Ned Schneebly.

A brilliant show, congratulations to the whole team – backstage and on stage, and of course to Show Director Kenny Robinson who has done an outstanding job in bringing together two sets of actors, singers and musicians, that’s quite an achievement!

If tickets are still available, I heartily recommend you treat yourself to a great night out at The School of Rock!


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