|Zac Raffan (Dewey) and cast.
Marty King – Musical Direction by Kat Tang
by Nathan Rutups – Costume Design by Miriam Miley-Read
Design by Jacob Aquilina – Sound Design by Kyle Moley
Dramatic Productions - Gungahlin Theatre, October 7th – 22nd.
presenting the first Canberra performances of the Andrew Lloyd-Webber musical,
“School of Rock”, Dramatic Productions uncovered
enough talented young actor/musicians during auditions to be able to mount two
casts of principals for the show, leading to a decision to field two casts,
labelled “Small” and “Tall”, who perform the show on alternate nights.
opened with the “Small” cast, which refers to physical stature rather than age
Rock” is based on the 2003 movie of the same name, and revolves around the
character of Dewey, an out-of-work, would-be rock singer and guitarist, who
spends his time fantasising himself as a rock-god. At this performance Dewey
was played with unrestrained gusto and irresistible enthusiasm by Zach Raffan. Dewey has been couch-surfing in the apartment
of his best friend, Ned, much to the chagrin of Ned’s girlfriend, Patti, who
wants Dewey out.
In an effort
to raise his back-rent, Dewey passes himself off as a substitute teacher in a
prestigious school. After identifying musical talent in his students, Dewey forms
a band of fifth-graders in the hope of winning the forthcoming Battle of the
|Zac Raffan (Dewey) and cast
The show is
performed on an attractive, versatile setting equipped with lots of unexpected
pull-outs and pull-downs efficiently operated by the large cast to represent a
variety of locales, with the sound cranked-up to rock concert level – well it
is a rock musical after all.
costumes by Miriam Miley-Read, spot-on choreography by Nathan Rutups, performed with enthusiasm by the entire
cast, and the great rock-sound achieved
by Kat Tang’s terrific unseen but definitely heard band, all added to the
enjoyment of Marty King’s well-rehearsed direction.
performances abound among the adults in the cast led by Taylor Paliaga as the
imposing headmistress, Rosalie Mullins who eventually melts under Dewey’s charm
offensive, though not before unexpectedly dashing off a few bars of Mozart’s Queen
of the Night Aria, thereby confirming the oft-repeated rumour that Lloyd-Webber
often seeks inspiration for his songs from classical sources.
impressive are Courtney Hayden as Ned’s over-bearing girlfriend, Patti, Bradley
McDowell as Dewey’s best friend, Ned, and Giuliana Baggoley as the stitched-up
inevitably it’s the young members of the cast who steal the show with their confident
acting and brilliant musicianship. Outstanding among them, 11 year old Zayn
O’Shaughnessy as Zack who amazes with his prodigious mastery of the
Hollier-Smith on keyboards, Zoe Fox on bass guitar and Sujaan Biddle on
percussion all provide show-stopping moments.
McDonald as the shy Tomika, captivates with her beautiful voice doing justice
to the best song in the show, “If Only You would Listen”, as did Lincoln Newell
asserting himself as the budding designer, Billy; Edith Baggoley as the ever-efficient know-all,
Summer; and Jacqueline Tatam, quite
adorable as Sophie.
are on a winner with this excellently produced and performed musical. If the
“Tall” cast, led by Max Gambale as Dewey, is anywhere near as captivating as
the “Small” cast, and there’s no reason to doubt that they are, then audiences
will find it hard to resist the temptation to see both casts to choose their