Rotherham Theatre Academy rocks the stage with debut rock musical 'School of Rock' featuring live rock band and talented young cast

These were not the words I expected to hear from Dee Bennie-Marshall, founder of Rotherham Theatres Student Academy, when I asked her about the company’s latest show.

“THIS is a first for us.”

These were not the words I expected to hear from Dee  Bennie-Marshall, founder of Rotherham Theatres Student Academy, when I asked her about the company’s latest show.

The experienced director of 40-plus years has been behind countless theatrical and musical performances over the decades, but School of Rock is RTSA’s first rock show.

“We’ve done everything from Phantom of the Opera to Miss Saigon — big, big stuff,” Dee said, head of next week’s six-show run at Rotherham Civic.

“But we’ve never done a live rock show, so it was very exciting to secure the rights.”

Based on the hit movie, School of Rock follows Dewey Finn, a failed, wannabe rock star who decides to earn an extra bit of cash by posing as a substitute teacher at a prestigious school.

He surprisingly turns a class of straight–A pupils into a guitar-shredding, bass-slapping rock band.

But can he get them to the Battle of the Bands without their parents and the school’s headmistress finding out?

The stage musical on Broadway and in the West End was produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber and features all of the original songs from the Jack Black-starring movie.

The academy’s younger children are playing the pupils, with young adults taking on the roles of teachers and parents.

Eighteen-year-old Sam Simmons is in the part of Dewey and Dee said he was “doing a sterling job”.

A live rock band — Storyboard — will also be performing as the show’s No Vacancy and opening the show, while the school band will be playing live as much as possible, with the orchestra helping out the more difficult sections.

“It’s quite emotional in places,” said Dee.

“The young children sing a song to the adults called ‘If Only You Would Listen’, which is quite topical with children saying they are not being heard because parents are so busy with work or on their phones.

“There’s also a female character who is reluctant to sing but Dewey encourages her out of her shell and she sings ‘Amazing Grace’ — that just melts your heart.”

School of Rock runs from next Tuesday, March 14 to next Saturday March 18, at 7.15pm, with a 2.15pm Saturday matinee.

Tickets are priced at £18 and available via the Civic box office on 01709 823621 or online at www.rotherhamtheatres.co.uk.

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