Smash hit West End musical School of Rock is coming to the New Theatre Oxford this month, with the show’s star calling it a “real love letter to live music”.

The musical, based on the 2003 comedy film starring Jack Black, features new music written by Andrew Lloyd Webber as well as lyrics by Glenn Slater and book by Julian Fellowes.

It follows Dewey Finn (Jake Sharp), a failed, wannabe rock star who decides to earn money by posing as a substitute teacher at a prestigious prep school.

There, he turns a class of straight-A students into a guitar-shredding, bass-slapping, mind-blowing rock band.

While teaching these pint-sized prodigies what it means to truly rock, Dewey falls for the school’s beautiful, but uptight headmistress, helping her rediscover the wild child within.

Oxford Mail: Jake Finn as Dewey Finn. Picture: Stuart Harrison Jake Finn as Dewey Finn. Picture: Stuart Harrison

The instruments used are performed live by the production’s young every night with what is described as ‘roof raising energy’.

Star Jake Sharp says the audience reaction to theatres reopening after so long has been thrilling for him.

He said: ““It’s been amazing. It kind of feels completely different to before. It feels like everyone has been – well, literally – locked away and now just have this new lease of life, this energy.

“Mums and Dads, Aunties and Uncles, and children, Nieces and Nephews, everyone loves it the same amount.

“One of my favourite things is when the Dads, at the end of the show, are at stage door and they enjoyed it as much as their ten year old.”

The musical is especially relevant for this post-lockdown Christmas as it places a huge emphasis on togetherness, the impact of live music and the importance of protecting creativity in schools.

Mr Sharp describes it as a “love letter to live music” and a “real feel good, high energy, positive show”.

He added: “It champions everyone, it champions music and being part of something together and playing live and putting yourself out there.”

It is not just the audience who bring energy to the theatre, the show’s child cast are a “joy” for Mr Sharp to work with.

He said: “It’s constantly energising. It’s unbelievably inspiring, they are just this fresh bundle of energy and joy and positivity.

“They are borderline annoyingly talented.”

Oxford Mail: Jake Finn as Dewey Finn. Picture: Stuart Harrison Jake Finn as Dewey Finn. Picture: Stuart Harrison

Mr Sharp considers You’re In The Band, one the songs from Act I, a favourite moment in the show.

He said: “It’s the first time that the kids pick up their instruments and I start teaching them. That’s just- You can feel the whole audience, that’s the moment they’re here for.”

The star’s love for the Battle Of The Bands scene likely originates from his deep love of rock music.

The influence and love of which, much like as it is for children in the show, started from a young age.

“I am big into rock music. It was something that was genuinely handed down to me because my mum and dad are as well!”

He looked up to many classic rock icons growing up including Ozzie Osbourne, Slade, Led Zeppelin and Robert Plant, who from near him in the Midlands.

He adds: “But also more my generation, like Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Foo Fighters, all of that type, Jeff Buckley - they’re all my absolute idols.”

When asked what the best thing about playing Dewey on tour was, Mr Sharp’s answer was instant: “Going to different cities, meeting different people.

He said: “And knowing that we are going to be here [in Oxford] over the Christmas period I think it is going to be really magical. We are all really buzzing.”

He experienced a whirlwind tour of Oxford and its most iconic landmarks earlier this month, dressed in Dewey Finn’s teacher attire and a brightly coloured Christmas jumper.

Prior to the show coming to the city, Mr Sharp rocked out in some of Oxford’s top locations: starting the day with an air guitar jump kick on to The Ashmolean Museum forecourt, took in the sights at The Varsity Club’s roof top bar and even had time to visit Christ Church College.

Mr Sharp said: “Seeing all the Christmas lights already around and just being in the city, it’s got such a magical feel to it.

“I have never been here before but a lot of the cast have and it was just one their top ones that they were like, ‘I can’t wait to get back to Oxford!’”

The show also stars Rebecca Lock as Rosalie Mullins, Matthew Rowland as Ned Schneebly and Nadia Violet Johnson as Patty Di Marco.

Show dates run from Monday December 13 2021 to Saturday January 1 2022. Tickets can be purchased from the New Theatre Oxford website and box office, with tickets ranging from £13 to £66.


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