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School of Rock The Musical London – Interview with Gary Trainor

Back Oliver Jackson (Ned Schneebly), front Gary Trainor (Dewey Finn)
Back Oliver Jackson (Ned Schneebly), front Gary Trainor (Dewey Finn) – Photo credit Tristram Kenton

Having played the role of alternate Dewey since the show’s London premiere, Gary Trainor now leads the cast as Dewey Finn (from 17th May 2017), with Stephen Leask joining the cast as the alternate Dewey.

For a third time since its West End premiere School of Rock – The Musical also recently announced a further booking extension with tickets currently available to 14th January 2018.  Acclaimed by audiences and critics alike, the record-breaking West End production of School of Rock – The Musical opened to rave reviews in November 2016, and last month the show’s ‘kids’ cast were the excited recipients of the Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Music. In New York, the Broadway production now in its second year, continues to play to packed houses at the Winter Garden Theater.

Read our exclusive Q&A with Gary Trainor – LondonTheatre1.com

Q: You have been part of School of Rock the Musical from the start. What attracted you most to be in the production?
Gary: I loved the film when I was younger, I was 17 when it first came out and I would quote the film with my friends at school. When I heard the show had been made into a musical and was coming to the West End I knew I had to get into that audition room. Thankfully with the help and tenacity of my agent, I got my chance, and here we are.

Q: How has the musical ‘evolved’ since the first night of Previews?
Gary: Like any show, as it progresses, it will inevitably get tighter and slicker. It is also fantastic to see the children grow in confidence and experiment with how they perform, and also the children musicians get better and better each day.

Q: You first played alternate Dewey, can you tell us about that?
Gary: I was delighted to be the alternate Dewey in the original cast, I got to play the part 3 times a week which meant that I was really able to make it my own and had regular performances to improve show on show. I was in all of the same rehearsals as David Fynn who originated the role, and we had a certain amount of collaboration through the process which was so helpful, David is truly a hilarious man onstage and off!

Q: You are now in the lead role as Dewey Finn – what impact has that had on you?
Gary: I think the true impact will be felt over the next few weeks, playing 3 times a week up to this point has made me feel match fit as it were. I am sure the greater workload will require more attention to stretching and fitness, as it is such a physical show.

Q: Can you tell us about how Dewey Finn?
Gary: Dewey is a failed rocker, but it is all he wants to do. He gets kicked out of his band and threatened with eviction from his best friends girl friend (Ned and Pattie). When a posh prep school ring looking for his friend to temp as a teacher, Dewey takes the opportunity to pretend to be Ned and get the money for the rent. When he arrives at the school he sees that the children are talented musicians and decides to start a band with them secretly to compete in the Battle of the Bands competition. As the show unfolds the kids transform Dewey and vice versa.

Q: Why should everyone get along to see School of Rock?
Gary: You will not leave the theatre without a smile on your face; some may even have their faces melted clean off by the awesomeness of the band! It is a show that appeals to people of all ages. It is funny, poignant, exhilarating and a downright great night out at the theatre!

The Cast of School of Rock
The Cast of School of Rock with Gary Trainor (centre) photo by Tristram Kenton


Gary Trainor’s (Dewey Finn) previous theatre credits include Donnie Kirshner in the West End production of Beautiful The Carole King Musical, I Can’t Sing at the London Palladium, Potted Potter at the Garrick Theatre and on tour in the US and Australia, The Shawshank Redemption at Wyndham’s Theatre, Prophecy for The Old Vic New Voices and at the Public Theatre, New York, Into The Woods at the Landor Theatre and Jago at the Pleasance Theatre in Edinburgh. He has also toured the UK in Buddy, Frankenstein: The Year Without a Summer, Stones in His Pockets, and The Oxford Passion. 

Stephen Leask’s (alternate Dewey) previous theatre credits include Robin Hood at The Egg Theatre, Bath, The Canterbury Tales at The Pantaloons, One Man, Two Guvnors at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, A Little Hotel on the Side for Theatre Royal Bath, The Revenge of Sherlock Holmes at Hoxton Hall, Staunch for Theatre 503, Potted Panto at the Vaudeville Theatre, Newsrevue at the Edinburgh Festival, The Secret Garden for Birmingham Rep and Troilus and Cressida for the Royal Shakespeare Company. Leask is a member of the Merely Players, a theatre company dedicated to producing accessible productions of Shakespeare. His television appearances include Nightmares, Our World War, The Intern, and Eastenders.

Based on the smash hit 2003 film of the same title, School of Rock features music from the movie, as well as new music written by Andrew Lloyd Webber with lyrics by Glenn Slater and a book by Julian Fellowes.  School of Rock – The Musical is directed by Laurence Connor with choreography by JoAnn M. Hunter, set and costume designs by Anna Louizos, lighting design by Natasha Katz, sound design by Mick Potter, music supervision by John Rigby with Matt Smith as musical director.

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s smash hit West End production of School of Rock – The Musical will hold open auditions on Saturdays 10 June in Sheffield, 15 July in Birmingham and 23 September 2017 in Liverpool, for the opportunity to join the band as part of the kids’ cast of the hit musical currently playing at the New London Theatre. If you’re between 8 – 12 years old and play the drums, keys or the electric or bass guitar, we need to hear from you!

Tom Abisgold, 13 years old from Cheshire, one of the original West End cast said: “I’ve had the best time ever being part of the band at School of Rock. I made my West End debut playing the guitarist Zack – how cool is that?! When I auditioned for the part I never imagined that I’d be joining an actual band and working with Andrew Lloyd Webber and the rest of the amazing cast and crew. I am so glad that my Mum and Dad encouraged me to audition in the first place. I have been on TV, walked red carpets and won an Olivier award*. It’s been hard work and we practise hard but it’s really a dream come true, and I’d encourage any kid who plays one of the band instruments to come and audition, you’ll have the time of your life!

Jessica Ronane, Children’s Casting Director, said: “We look forward meeting with the next generation of rockstars, as we continue our auditions in Sheffield, Birmingham and Liverpool. If you can play the drums, keys or the electric and bass guitar, we want to hear from you, and if you’re nervous about skills just get in touch and we can give you more details. Come and ‘pledge allegiance to the band!’”

To register your interest and for more details on what we’re looking for please visit
www.schoolofrockthemusical.co.uk/opencall For further information please contact the team at Jessica
Ronane Casting on rock@jessicaronane.com

School of Rock the Musical Cast 2017/18

Read our 5-star The School of Rock Musical review. Book School of Rock Musical tickets for New London Theatre.

School of Rock The Musical
New London Theatre
Running Time: 2 hours & 30 minutes (including interval)

Buy Tickets for School of Rock The Musical


  • Neil Cheesman

    First becoming involved in an online theatre business in 2005 and launching londontheatre1.com in September 2013. Neil writes reviews and news articles, and has interviewed over 150 actors and actresses from the West End, Broadway, film, television, and theatre. Follow Neil on Twitter @LondonTheatre1

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