Before the curtain rises on his multi-award-winning musical, School Of Rock, you hear Andrew Lloyd Webber respond to a question often put to him: ‘Do the kids actually play the instruments?’ His response is an emphatic, ‘Yes, they do!’

Even armed with this knowledge, it’s hard to comprehend that here you have a ‘classroom’ of nine- to 13-year-olds delivering proficient performances on guitar, keyboard and drums. And as if that isn’t impressive enough, they also showcase some truly wonderful acting, singing and dancing skills - not a note off key nor a step out of place. These kids leave you in awe, and that’s just to get you started...

Rocking us both in and out of the musical is local lad Jake Sharp, who is perfect in the lead role of slovenly wannabe rock star Dewey Finn. Gesticulating and gyrating his way through the storyline - from his very first appearance as an overzealous guitarist in rock band No Vacancy, right up until the curtain falls at The Battle Of The Bands finale - Sharp gives a high-energy performance that leaves you wonderfully exhausted. Dewey Finn is one hell of a role to play, requiring one hell of a lot of stamina, and Sharp absolutely has what it takes.

Rebecca Lock gives a first-class performance as Principle (Rosalie) Mullins - an uptight character who, once her layers are peeled, reveals a softer, more caring side. Lock’s vocal versatility is evident throughout. Her talents as a soprano are beautifully showcased as she vocalises the high expectations of Horace Green Prep School. Then, later in the show, she lets her hair down (literally) to perform a beer-induced rendition of Where Did The Rock Go.

Supporting cast performances are excellent across the board, but special mention should go to Florrie May Wilkinson - who gets her gold star for displaying sass by the bucketload as the ever-so-determined Summer - and Souparnika Nair - who plays Tomika and gives the most beautiful rendition of Amazing Grace.

Funny, joyous and entertaining, there’s never a dull moment in School Of Rock. By the time the show reaches its finale at The Battle Of The Bands, the audience is ready, willing and able to get up on their feet and join in the fun. A second outing for catchy rock number Stick It To The Man provides them with the perfect opportunity to do so.

A previous time I went to see School Of Rock, I overheard someone say that they thought the production’s staging was ‘too close to the film’s’ and that the show offered ‘no surprises’. Seriously, though... who wants surprises from a show that comes so rock & roll-ready? Not me! And the fact that the production so faithfully mirrors Mike White’s storyline makes it all the more appealing. Add into the mix ALW’s orchestration and you have one of the most watchable stage shows ever. All you need to do is sit back and enjoy the ride. It’s a damn good one. Rock On!

Five stars

Reviewed by Patsy Moss