With the opening of Sunset Boulevard on Broadway this week, Andrew Lloyd Webber has become the only person to equal the record set by Rodgers and Hammerstein in 1953 to have four shows running concurrently on the Great White Way. Lloyd Webber’s latest musical, School of Rock began life in New York and has made its London home at the New London Theatre – where Cats played for 21 years. It’s Lloyd Webber’s rockiest score since Jesus Christ Superstar and has a similar vibe in parts to Whistle Down The Wind too.

Based on the 2003 film, School of Rock is the story of dropout Dewey Finn, a failed rock star who poses as a teacher at Horace Green, a prestigious prep school. Whilst the kids are meant to be learning algebra and arithmetic, the charismatic Dewey secretly teaches them rock ‘n’ roll. Can the kids win the Battle of the Bands without their parents knowing or will Dewey get found out by straight-laced school principal Miss Andrews?

Even having not watched the film, the story is quite predictable but is well told (book by Julian Fellowes) and well executed here. As a voiceover from Lloyd Webber himself at the start of the show states, all the children really do play the instruments live on stage. Lloyd Webber and show director Laurence Connor – himself a former member of a metal band and director of the arena tour of Jesus Christ Superstar – have gathered a group of talented youngsters into three teams of 39 kids in total. Music empowers the children and they become a band in front of the audience’s very eyes. But they’re good actors too – amongst the group I saw were Jobe Hart as a fashion-obsessed boy, Amma Ris as a girl hiding her talent from her two gay Dads and Toby Lee as an aspiring song-writer.

But it’s Gary Trainor who holds the whole show together as the loveable Dewey – it’s not a conventional leading man role but Trainor draws the audience in to investing belief in a character who inspires the kids and allows them the freedom to pursue what they’re interested in. Trainor even has rock star vocals to boot. Dewey empowers the kids with his vision, passing himself off as his friend Ned Schneebly (Oliver Jackson), a genuine teacher who gives Dewey house room against the wishes of his straight-laced girlfriend Patty di Marco (a rather one-dimensional Preeya Kalidas). Fortunately, school principal Miss Andrews (Rosalie Mullins – a great find here) is a closet rock fan and eventually lets her hair down with great style.

If you don’t like electric guitar, School of Rock probably isn’t the show for you. It starts loud and continues so – but it’s a fun evening and this non-rock fan found plenty to enjoy. The kids are talented stars of the future and their characters identify with the music which frees them from the pressures of their parents’ expectations. As Glenn Slater’s lyrics state, ‘I’ve got so much to share, if only you would listen’.