Theatre Review: SCHOOL OF ROCK – Palace Theatre, Manchester


Fun, energetic and featuring a tremendous young cast, SCHOOL OF ROCK is a thrilling musical that the whole family will enjoy.

4 out of 5 stars

Manchester’s Palace Theatre kicked off 2022 in true Rock ‘n’ Roll style with the first ever UK tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s West End and Broadway hit musical SCHOOL OF ROCK.

Based on the 2003 movie starring Jack Black, SCHOOL OF ROCK tells the story of failed rock star Dewey Finn who poses as a substitute teacher at an elite prep school to pay his rent.

Desperate to display his own talents and unable to teach anything but music, Dewy transforms his class into rock gods, entering them into the coveted “Battle of the Bands” competition, all whilst falling in love with their uptight headteacher Miss Mullins.

Fun, energetic and featuring a tremendous young cast, SCHOOL OF ROCK is a thrilling family musical that the whole family will enjoy.

Julian Fellow’s script sticks closely to the beats of the screenplay, leaning on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s harmonies and Glenn Slater’s lyrics to help push the story along.

Cast of SCHOOL OF ROCK UK Tour 2022

The action is also aided by Anna Louizos’ wood-panelled set, which, complimented by Natasha Katz’s superb lighting design, allows the action to move fluidly between the prestige Horace Green school, Dewey’s bedroom, and the Battle of the Bands arena.

In the lead role of Dewey, Alex Tomkins makes the part his own with his slick wit and perfect comic timing. His infectious performance has the young kids in the audience in stitches, while his natural repartee with the young cast helps make this musical so heart-warming.

Rebecca Lock is equally excellent as uptight school principal Rosalie Mullins. Her character development is charming to watch, and her vocal performance of WHERE DID THE ROCK GO? stands out as a highlight of the show, demonstrating her exquisite vocal range and top soprano voice.

Rebecca Lock in SCHOOL OF ROCK

But it’s the children that really steal the show, acting, singing, and playing their instruments live on stage throughout. All the young cast are excellent here but stand out performances come from Florrie May Wilkinson as the sassy and snooty Summer and Souparnika Nair as the shy Tomika, whose angelic performance of AMAZING GRACE in act two is sure to give you goosebumps.

Of course, those familiar with the film will know that the plot is a little weak, and some of the gags are a little cliché.
Lloyd Webber’s score also occasionally loses some energy, and, notably, there isn’t a standout song in the musical version that isn’t lifted from the film.

That said, it doesn’t take away from the overall fun and energy of the piece. Whether you’re a fan of the film or are just looking for a treat for all the family, SCHOOL OF ROCK is sure to deliver. ‘Stick it to the man’ and buy yourself a ticket.

SCHOOL OF ROCK runs at the Palace Theatre, Manchester, until 15 January 2022.