Oh my word – what a show and what a fabulous advert of the Moreton product.
The School of Rock is a high octane musical about a prestigious private school of privileged, high achieving kids, where the headteacher is driven by pleasing the employers (the parents!) and the new mantra is that “the children are the future, teach them well and let them lead the way”! One could have easily been convinced that Julian Fellowes (the script writer) and Andrew Lloyd Webber have girls at Moreton Hall and had been hired to boost the fundraising efforts for the Holroyd Community Theatre!
Dewey Finn (Megan U5) is a rock wannabe, behind on his rent and recently dismissed from his own band because of his unruly antics. Downcast and distraught, Dewey doesn't know what to do. His usually patient room-mate, Ned Schneebly (Georgie U6) a schoolteacher, is being pressured by his aggressive girlfriend (Seren U6) to make Dewey pay the rent or get out. When a call comes in to Ned asking him to serve as a substitute teacher at Horace Green Prep School, Dewey decides to assume his identity and take the job.
Of course this rocker doesn't have a clue where to start, so he tells the kids to chill out and enjoy some downtime. When the cry went up that “my parents don’t spend $50,000 a year for recess”, “hear, hear” echoed around the parental audience! When Dewey visits the orchestra class he realises that there are some talented musicians so he decides to form a rock band. Zack (Josie U6) is the lead guitarist, Katie (Kundai L5) is on bass and Lawrence (Millie L5) is on keyboards. Freddy (Alysha U5), the class rebel, turns out to be an eager learner on drums, and Tomika (Georgie L6) surprises him with her unusual singing talent.
The smartest girl in the class, Summer (Emma U6), gets her chance to excel as band manager while others serve as backup singers (Sorcha L6 and Maya U4), groupie (Nell U4), special effects wizard (Charlotte L5), head of security (Abigail U5) and stylist (Molly L6). When Dewey discovers that the uptight and unlocked principal, Rosalie Mullins (Morgan Darcy U6), is a secret fan of Fleetwood Mac, they are able to connect as friends and the rock fan gets his wish to enter the ‘Battle of the Bands’. And even though this contest was won by his old band, all that mattered to Dewey was that the School of Rock delivered a “kick-ass” show!
This show exceeded its high expectations. The feel good factor was huge both on the stage and in the audience, where some parents felt obliged to dress up on the final night - quite simply it rocked everywhere. Awesome acting, beautiful singing, great music and genuinely funny, this contemporary production had it all and everyone from my 86-year old mother to the youngest teenagers left on a massive rock-fuelled, adrenalin-packed high. The quality of the girls’ performances across the cast was top drawer, whether they were in the spotlight or not, and the energy and total commitment of everyone involved was so impressive. They made a wickedly awesome ensemble and were clearly enjoying their work.
I must single out three individuals who helped to lift this show from a great production into an epic one. Megan was outstanding and flawless throughout. This young Upper Fifth former was undaunted by an incredible chunk of the script and quite simply held the show together with real energy, wonderful timing, magnificent stage presence and powerful delivery when it mattered. A promising career in musical theatre is surely within her grasp should she wish to take it, and I hope she does.
Morgan Darcy too was exceptional – the voice of Wales was in truly fine form and it was a real treat to hear it, but it was supplemented by a stellar portrayal of a gobsmacked headmistress that had the audience in fits of laughter at times. And finally we must bow down to Kate Howells for delivering such 5-star entertainment. Aside from her obvious creative flair, her casting brilliance and her directional skill to choreograph such a fabulous professional spectacle and coordinate an almost remote live band and tremendous lighting, it is her ability to bring our girls on from varying starting points with unwavering faith in their abilities to deliver such a strong, cohesive and enthusiastic team effort that is so remarkable. These are leadership skills that Moreton should cherish and even Dewey Finn would do well to emulate! For those about to rock, we salute you Mrs Howells!
As an Upper Sixth parent, I have drawn tremendous pleasure and pride from watching my daughter, Emma, and her friends progress and blossom so magnificently through a string of wonderful productions at Moreton. The shows, especially the musicals, have just become better and better and the School of Rock was undoubtedly the best of the lot and worthy of the finest West End stage. Sadly though the dear old multi-purpose Musgrave only allowed a few of us to enjoy it; this show could have easily doubled, if not trebled, the audience every night and I would have gladly paid top dollar to watch it. Roll on the Holroyd; this team truly deserves it.
David Young (Parent)