Hollywood funnyman Jack Black and Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes might not appear to have much in common; throw in British theatre legend Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and a hoard of screaming children and the connection might seem more incongruous but Aucklanders will see later this year that together they've created musical magic.

School of Rock is the latest Broadway smash hit to reach our shores, jamming out Auckland's Civic Theatre for a limited season in September as the latest stop on a world tour that has so far included New York, London, Melbourne, Shanghai.

Based on the Richard Linklater film, the musical follows slacker wannabe-rocker Dewey Finn, a role originated by Jack Black, who impersonates his roommate to take up a well-paid substitute teaching job at a fancy elementary school.

There, he discovers his students are musical protégés and enlists them to help him achieve his goal of winning the Battle of the Bands competition.


While it's unsurprising that the box office hit was adapted for Broadway, joining a long line of screen-to-stage hits such as The Lion King, Priscilla and Kinky Boots, what is surprising are the men behind the theatrical reimagining.

Musical legend Lloyd Webber (Cats, Phantom of the Opera, Evita) chose this as his 20th production, where he once again double-billed as composer, contributing 12 new songs to the show; Oscar winner Julian Fellows, best known for period dramas such as Downton Abbey and Gosford Park, wrote the book.

In a statement, Lloyd Webber and his producer wife Madeline say they sat down to watch the movie as a family "and were immediately struck by how much it resonated with us all".

"We loved it for its sense of outrageous fun and the story that proves music can really change your life, whatever your age."

School of Rock leans heavily into that message, with the child actors not only having to dance and sing but a handful of them also perform the music live on stage.

That craft earned the production the Outstanding Achievement in Music gong at the Laurence Olivier Awards, the West End's most prestigious theatre awards.

Tickets to the Auckland season go on sale to the general public on March 14th.

What: School of Rock
Where & when: Civic Theatre, from September 5