Why do we normally see 3 or 4 child actors for a single lead role?
UK is known to have more stringent rules on child labour as compared to the US. With longer rest breaks and shorter working hours the shows usually have to cast 3 or 4 children for a lead role. This led Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber in 2014 to announce the launch of its musical School of Rock on Broadway instead of the West End. The rules have changed somewhat since then, putting less burden on the production houses. But seeing little miracles on stage is still quite costly and totally worth it.
Gillian Lynne Theatre is in the Really Useful Theatre group, covered in my Adelphi theatre post, recently rebranded to LW Theatres (Lloyd Webber Theatres).
Gillian Lynne Theatre now stands on a site where used to be a tavern, Great Mogul, in the 17th century, associated with the name of Nell Gwynne, actress and the mistress of Charles II. Tavern was replaced with the music hall that was called Mogul Saloon, Turkish Saloon, the Mogul Music Hall, and The Middlesex Music Hall at different times. In 1911, a completely new building was erected by Oswald Stoll and renamed the New Middlesex Theatre of Varieties. In 1919, the building was acquired by George Grossmith and Edward Laurillard and renamed the Winter Garden. The Winter Garden showed musicals and plays. The building was sold in 1959 and the new auditorium as we know it today opened in 1972. The official theatrical opening was in January 1973. The auditorium was used for musicals, plays and television shows. The building returned to full time operation as a theatre with the opening of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical “Cats” in 1981. The theatre became part of the Really Useful Theatre group in 2000.
Act one begins with the performance of a band “No Vacancy.” Band’s guitarist, Dewey Finn, outperforms the lead vocalist and the lead vocalist agrees with other members of the band to kick Dewey out. Even though Dewey brought the band together, he is left without a band and a job at a record shop. Dewey is living in his friend, Ned’s house and his rent is past due. Ned’s girlfriend, Patty is getting impatient with Dewey’s lifestyle and past due rent payments. One day, when Ned and Patty are out, Dewey picks up the phone and he finds out from Rosalie Mullins, principal of the prestigious Horace Green School, that they are offering Ned a job as a substitute teacher. Dewey pretends to be Ned and accepts the job. Dewey goes to school with the anticipation that he will agree on advance payment, but he finds out this is not possible and he will actually have to spend some time at Horace Green School. Dewey stands out from other teachers and does not make a good first impression on his students. Next day when he is late for class, he finds his students having a music lesson. He discovers that his students are actually very talented musicians and gets the idea to form a band with them and participate in the battle of the bands. He gets his class on board and they start rigorously preparing for this project. He sneaks the whole class out of school to take them to the auditions, where they qualify for the battle, but nobody finds out. On the day of the big battle the school is hosting a parents’ day. Dewey breaks down in front of the parents and admits that instead of teaching the children science or literature, he taught them music. When he is praising his students as very talented musicians, Patty storms in and announces that Dewey has been lying all this time, pretending to be Ned. Parents are outraged and Rosalie tries to calm them down. Dewey leaves the school and goes to Ned’s place to pack his things but he is followed by his class, all tuned and ready for the big night. They rush to the battle venue followed by the parents and Rosalie. As the kids are giving an outstanding rock performance the parents join the audience, shocked by their children’s talent. The children are happy with their performance, even though they did not win the battle, but they made their parents listen to them for the first time. The parents are happy with their children and Dewey is offered a job at Horace Green School as a music coach.
School of Rock is based on a 2003 film of the same name. The music for the musical was composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics were written by Glenn Slater. It made its Broadway debut and world premiere at the Winter Garden Theatre in December 2015. The musical had its West End premier at the Gillian Lynne Theatre in November 2016.
Director: Laurence Connor
Producer: Really Useful Group
020 7437 2506; 020 3362 0408
Bought my ticket from LW Theatres website. £35 for a side seat in the middle row of the stalls. Theatre is built in a way that even the side seats have a very good view on the stage.
Running time is 2 hours 30 minutes.
The Theatre Rat