7 October 2022

For those about to (School of) Rock, we salute you!

| Evelyn Karatzas
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School of Rock

The cast of the School of Rock is hitting Gungahlin Theatre from 7 to 22 October. Photo: Janelle McMenamin.

Lights, camera, action! A cast of 34 talented kids from all around Canberra have hit the stage in the musical production, The School of Rock.

This childhood-favourite tells the story of a failed, rockstar-wannabe who becomes a substitute teacher to make some quick money, and then discovers a musically talented group of students and enters them in a Battle of the Bands competition without parents, or the school’s permission.

Put on by Dramatic Productions, School of Rock begins its run tonight (7 October) at the Gungahlin Theatre until Saturday, 22 October.

Managing director of Dramatic Productions Richard Block said School of Rock is the first show he’d put on with the majority of the cast being kids.

“I’ve really enjoyed it. I’ve been really pleased with how hard they’ve worked and how focused they’ve all been,” Richard said.

“The kids are so dedicated to putting on the best possible performance, and they have so much energy, which is just absolutely infectious.

“There’s so much comedy in the show and so many moments that you just can’t help but laugh out loud. I can’t wait for audiences to see these kids and see all the talent that they’ve got.”

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More than 150 kids put their names down for the auditions in May, where a video submission, and then in-person group audition determined the cast of 34, ranging in age from 10 to 17 years old.

As COVID was something that had to be taken into consideration when putting on the production, the cast was uniquely split up into two, a “small cast” and a “tall cast”. There are 29 cast members on stage at one time, and five that rotate between the small and tall cast.

“The chances of losing a cast member to COVID was so high, especially earlier in the year and even during our rehearsal process. There was barely a week where we didn’t have people missing with COVID,” Richard said.

“We had to be very careful about how we rehearsed and how we mixed, and if anyone was ill, they just couldn’t rehearse and they had to catch up later.

“It actually made the job of the production team to rehearse and bring the show together extremely difficult. Especially as we had two casts, which essentially meant we had to teach the show twice … but the kids have done an extraordinary job under these circumstances.”

School of Rock

Zayn said he’s been playing guitar for three years now. Photo: Janelle McMenamin.

Richard said the cast was made up of experienced Canberra theatre performers who have done numerous shows, and kids who will are taking the stage for the first time such as the guitarist who is playing Zack, Zayn O’Shaughnessy.

“Zayn is a first-time performer on stage, but his musical abilities are just outstanding,” he said.

“He’s come to us with great musical talent, and had no other experience of singing, acting or dancing, and has worked incredibly hard and has done outstandingly well.”

As one of the youngest cast members in the ‘small cast’, Zayn said he’d never done anything like School of Rock before.

“When I was about to audition, I was worried because I had never sung in public before and I had never acted,” he said.

“But the directors were so encouraging through this whole process and made me feel like I could do it.

“This show has been a real eye-opener. I’ve had so much fun being involved, as it’s got all my passions together, and I feel like it was made for someone like me.”

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The 10-year-old said he’d had a passion for music since he was just two years old.

“I’ve always been really passionate about playing guitar and music,” Zayn said.

“If you’re ever feeling sad, there’s a piece of music that feels sad, and if you’re feeling happy, music can make you feel happy too, and I think it’s something I can always go back to.

“The cast is also so talented, and we bond through music which is amazing, so I’m really looking forward to going out there and having fun on the stage with them.”

Although Zayn feels nervous, he can’t wait to perform for the first time in the musical, and aims to audition for more musicals in the future.

The School of Rock will be running from now until Saturday, 22 October, at Gungahlin Theatre.

Tickets start from $35 per person, to book yours visit StageCenta.

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