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Review | The Portsmouth Players' School of Rock at The Kings Theatre: "These kids rock!"

Portsmouth Players' production of School of Rock is at The Kings Theatre from October 24-29, 2023 (Photo: Katherine Duffy:PPs)
Portsmouth Players' production of School of Rock is at The Kings Theatre from October 24-29, 2023 (Photo: Katherine Duffy:PPs)

Out of work musician Dewey Finn pretends to be a substitute teacher to make a quick buck. Realising his fifth graders’ musical talents, he embarks on a mission to win the Battle of the Bands with them.

Sam Townsend does an excellent job as Dewey. The leading man is barely off-stage from start to finish. With his comic timing, impressive vocals and guitar-playing, his stage presence is exemplary and the relationship with his class is heart-warming. Jack Black ought to worry if Hollywood ever does a remake!

Laura Bowler is equally impressive as the prep school principal, Mrs Mullins. Again, her timing is impeccable, whilst Where Did the Rock Go really showed off her voice.

Portsmouth Players' production of School of Rock is at The Kings Theatre from October 24-29, 2023 (Photo: PPs)
Portsmouth Players' production of School of Rock is at The Kings Theatre from October 24-29, 2023 (Photo: PPs)

Archie Crockett and Madison Cathrow are well cast as Ned Schneebly and Patti di Marco, respectively.

There’s a famous saying in showbusiness: “Never work with children or animals”. Well, they’d never met this lot, these kids rock!

Jasper Croser Neely (Zack – lead guitar), Gene Croser-Neely (Lawrence – keyboard), Owen Brett (Freddy – drums) and Jemima May-Rees (Katie – bass) were incredible. I wasn’t the only audience member peering over the orchestra pit in sheer disbelief to confirm that the youngsters were playing live!

Daniel Ferrigan and Daisy Hollins both gave comedic performances as Billy and Summer, respectively. Elsewhere, you could hear a pin drop when Deola Rounds (Tomika) sang her rendition of Amazing Grace, with a gorgeous vocal that transcended her youth.

All of the youngsters looked at home on the stage, executing Bee Anderson’s choreography expertly throughout. The musical numbers with Townsend, such as You’re in the Band and Stick It to the Man, are delightful, whilst If Only You Would Listen is heart-wrenching. You’d be forgiven for not realising this is a Lloyd Webber musical, but the tracks are catchy all the same.

Musical director Kim Seagrove and assistant MD Dan Brown have done a wonderful job.

Director Nick Williams sure has a hit on his hands, which any rock god would be proud of.

Until Sunday.