YORK Light Youth’s tenth anniversary show will be the York amateur premiere of School Of Rock, ready to rock at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, from November 8 to 11.
Directed by Sue Hawksworth, this technically and musically challenging musical – music by Andrew Lloyd Webbber, lyrics by Glenn Slater, book by Julian Fellowes – will be performed by a cast combining young performers aged ten to 17 and adults from the York Light Opera Company in equal numbers: a unique occurrence for York Light.
Among the adult cast will be Megan Overton and Maddy Hicks, who both performed in York Light Youth’s first show, Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, in 2013 and are enjoying their return to the group.
Based on Richard Linklater’s 2003 American film, the storyline follows Jonny Holbek’s Dewey Finn, a failed wannabe rock star, who decides to make some cash by teaching at a prestigious prep school. Soon he discovers his students to be clueless about rock’n’roll, but he vows to mould them into a rock band to enter Battle of the Bands.
Along the way, Dewey finds romance, self-worth and a proper job as he initiates the children and their parents in the beauty of rock.
Director Sue Hawksworth was formerly assistant director of York Light Opera Company for 18 years, working on diverse productions ranging from The Sound Of Music and Oliver! to South Pacific and The King & I, and she is no stranger to working with young people.
Assistant director Gavin Shaw has performed in many musical theatre productions, appearing as Officer Krupke in York Light Youth’s West Side Story in 2016. Martin Lay is the musical director, a post he has held for York Light Youth since 2019.
Playing opposite Jonny Holbek in his relentless lead role will be leading lady Emma Louise Dickinson’s formidable headteacher Rosalie Mullins. Jonny and Emma Louise last appeared together as Che and Eva Peron in York Light’s 2022 production of Evita.
Flynn Coultous and Georgia Foster take on the roles of Ned Schneebly, Dewey’s long-suffering flatmate, and his girlfriend, Paty Di Marco. Best friends Flynn and Georgia have been performing together since they were seven and five respectively, ten years in total.
Flynn joined York Light Youth for Hairspray in 2019 and played a loud and comical Joe Vegas in last year’s production of Fame.
School Of Rock is unique among musicals because not one, but two bands play live on stage. The adult band, No Vacancy, features cast members and musicians Jonny Holbek, Mat Tapp, Ant Pengally and Kathryn Lay, along with musicians Ben Huntley on guitar and Mike Hampton on drums.
The young band, School Of Rock, comprises four highly talented musicians who have achieved great things already. On keys will be Sam Brophy, a 2022 finalist in the BBC’s Young Chorister of the Year competition. On guitar will be Ollie Lee, whose band Bangers And Thrash won Minster FM’s Battle of the Bands in 2019, when he was nine.
Double bassist Bella Smith took up playing bass guitar less than a year ago, very similar to the trajectory of her character, Kate, a cellist turned bass guitarist. Completing the line-up will be Finley Walters, already an accomplished drummer at the age of ten. Invited to perform at the RSL Virtual Music Festival in 2021, he opened with a solo drum performance.
“School Of Rock is a celebration of music, friendship and the power of self-expression,” says York Light chair and publicity officer Helen Eckersall. “We’re confident that audiences of all ages will thoroughly enjoy it. Don’t miss the York premiere of this amazing show.”
York Light Youth in School Of Rock, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, November 8 to 11, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Saturday matinee. Box office: 01904 501935 or josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.