School of Rock

James Gamack as Lonny in 'Rock of Ages,' which will take over the Riverway Arts Centre next week. IMAGE: The Cathedral School

Some of the best rock songs of the 80s will be given new life next week as The Cathedral School tackles the high school edition of Rock of Ages.

The jukebox musical, following aspiring performers Drew (Jack Ryan) and Sherrie (Dianne Rufus), features some of the biggest hits from Journey, Twisted Sister, Foreigner and more. Each song will sound as explosive as its original, with local rockers Cranky Pants stepping up as house band under the musical direction of percussionist and Cathedral music teacher Paul Neilson.

Director Jill Turner said the show was one she’d had her sights on for a while.

“I saw Rock of Ages on West End and absolutely loved it, but the professional production really isn’t PG at all. Then I saw local company NQOMT do it a couple of years ago and fell in love all over again – and Cranky Pants’ Paddy Higgins was the musical director of that production as well,” Jill said.

“When we were brainstorming what this year’s school production would be, suddenly Rock of Ages showed up on the list as a high school edition so we immediately jumped on it! Obviously the inappropriate aspects of the show have been removed and toned down for younger audiences to enjoy, but the story and the massive unforgettable songs are all still there – you’d have to be living under a rock to not be able to sing along.

“This isn’t our first show to feature Cranky Pants either: we were really fortunate when they joined us for Grease a couple of years ago. The band is a well-oiled machine, and work incredibly well with the students.”

The cast of ‘Rock of Ages.’ IMAGE: The Cathedral School

A number of senior music students have been mentored by Cranky Pants through the show, performing alongside them on stage for several songs. Paul said the collaboration element of the show made it all the more special.

“You throw passion for performing at these kids and they give it back to you tenfold – we all are having such a brilliant time,” Paul said.

“Cranky Pants was also involved in the NQOMT production of Rock of Ages so when we first rehearsed for this show, it was great to play it all over again and give even more depth to the music.”

Dianne Rufus, taking on the role of Sherrie, said the show was a giant step away from Cathedral’s last production.

“I helped with the makeup for Grease so saw what was involved behind the scenes for these shows and fell in love back then, so decided to audition this time around! Rock of Ages definitely isn’t your typical high school show though, it’s not something the audience would expect and I think everyone will walk out impressed,” Dianne said.

“School productions are so great because we bring so much passion into everything we do – not just the teachers bringing their experience and ideas to the table, but each of the students in the cast and behind the scenes are enjoying every second and I think it’s going to show on stage how much fun we’re having.”

Catch Rock of Ages – High School Edition at the Riverway Arts Centre from 25-27 October, with tickets available here

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