In preparation for our recent performance of the new Andrew Lloyd-Webber musical, ‘School of Rock’, 26 students and four staff visited London earlier this month to see the West End show and get an exclusive look backstage.
Staying at a hostel within earshot of the bells of St Paul’s Cathedral, the students took in the sights of the city, including art at the Tate Modern, a walk along the south bank of the Thames and the amazing Egyptian and Japanese exhibits of the British Museum.
Before visiting the New London theatre on Drury Lane, the group had a meal at the infamous Wong Kei Chinese restaurant, once dubbed ‘the rudest restaurant in London’.
The group was met at the theatre by Company Director Chris Boyle, who took them backstage where they saw the inner workings of the stage, a mountain of props and two racks filled with expensive Gibson guitars. Chris kindly held an impromptu Q&A session with the group before the theatre had to be cleared in time for the show.
The performance was outstanding and certainly deserving of the recent WhatsOnStage ‘Best New Musical Award.’ Our students were particularly impressed by the child performers playing the pupils of Horace Green for both their acting and musical skills and were eager to emulate some of what they had seen in our version of the show.
The following day, the students took part in the first ever ‘School of Rock’ dance workshop with cast member Joel Montague at the world-famous Pineapple Dance Studios. Joel, who is one of the actors playing Dewey Finn (Jack Black’s character in the original film), taught the group two dances from the show and answered their many questions about his life in theatre.
There was no time to rest on their return as the students were straight into final rehearsals the day after returning from the trip. They went on to perform three excellent shows the following week before half term.
Head of our ‘Evolve’ Performing Arts department, Anna Booth, said: “We had a fantastic time – the students were a credit to themselves and the school. The experience was one they’ll never forget and it was obvious that they were able to transfer what they saw in the West End to their performances back at school.
“The experience of visiting London, some of them for the first time, working with the cast and seeing how things work back stage really helps them to understand how the work they do in our subject translates to a variety of roles and careers in the theatre and entertainment industries.”