Glenn Slater,School of Rock,Andrew Lloyd Webber,Julian Fellowes,Musical theatre,Ukulele

I'm with the band: jamming with the kids from School of Rock

November 7, 2016
in Kids

‘We’ve not been playing long’ … the cast of the West End show Schoolf of Rock the Musical. Photograph: Martin Godwin for the Guardian “Sorry, can you just show me that again?” I say. “It basically starts on the seventh fret,” replies Jake Slack, 13. “On the G and B strings. Sometimes, I do it like this.” He’s off again, too fast for me to keep up. I’m in the lobby of the New London theatre, jamming with the kids from School of Rock, and I am getting schooled. The musical, based on the 2003 film starring Jack Black as a supply teacher who shows the kids how to rock, features additional music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, lyrics by Glenn Slater, and a book, if you can believe it, by Julian Fellowes. Earlier, when the kids were posing for our photographer, Lloyd Webber himself passed by overhead on a walkway (in addition to producing the show, he also owns the theatre) and stopped to wave. “Hi Andrew!” shouted the children. “Hi!” he shouted back. I meet Jake shortly after and we size up each other’s axes. Mine is a deeply distressed 1960s Fender of murky provenance. It says Jaguar on the headstock, but I’m pretty sure the body and the neck are from different guitars. “It’s quite nice,” says Jake, sceptically. His guitar is a pristine white Gibson Explorer. “Do they let you take that home at night?” I say. “I wish,” he replies. Tim Dowling entertains the School of Rock cast. Photograph: Martin Godwin for the Guardian Jake takes me through the chords to one of the songs in School of Rock: D, C, G and back to C. The bass player, Sophia, joins in. Oscar the keyboard player follows suit, while drummer Noah whacks a padded stool with his sticks. They shout words of encouragement to one another, some of which appear to be lines from the show. Watching Jake’s fingers for the changes, I remain half a beat behind throughout. When they all shift key at the end, I lose track completely. I’m sort of glad Lord Lloyd-Webber isn’t here to witness this. School of Rock is already a hit on Broadway, earning four Tony nominations earlier this year. But bringing the show to Britain presented particular challenges. The New York version has a juvenile cast of 13, but UK child labour laws make it necessary to cast three rotating sets of kids – 39 in...

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