Brent Hill, right, stars as Dewey in School of Rock The Musical.
Brent Hill, right, stars as Dewey in School of Rock The Musical. Supplied

Homework is a party for the School of Rock cast

BRENT Hill's character Dewey may be a slacker but there's no down time for the actor in his starring role in School of Rock The Musical.

Hill plays the wannabe rock star turned imposter supply teacher in Andrew Lloyd Webber's stage musical adaptation of the 2003 comedy film of the same name, which follows Dewey as he turns a class of overachieving pupils into a guitar-shredding rock band.

When I catch up with him backstage in his dressing room at Melbourne's Her Majesty's Theatre, Hill's fridge is filled with electrolytes to help him prepare for and recover from two hours of jumping, singing and generally rocking out.

"It's a lot of energy, a lot of jumping around," he says.

Brent Hill, centre, stars as Dewey in School of Rock The Musical.
Brent Hill, centre, stars as Dewey in School of Rock The Musical. Supplied

"Dewey is a bit of an endurance test, with me being on stage for the majority of the story and then you couple that with him wearing sweater vests and all that stuff. The deception of it is you've got to make it look easy but it's not."

After more than 100 performances in Melbourne, a whirlwind tour of China and a Helpmann Award nomination, Hill is confident he has put his own stamp on the role made famous by Jack Black. The musical opens in Brisbane next week and then rolls on to Sydney and Auckland.

"There are certain moments in the film which definitely stick with me, but if you play to that expectation then you get the expectation," he says. "Sometimes it's nice to subvert (those expectations) and something I try to do is give a different version of it.

"He's a guy who thinks he's total rock star and wants to be a total rock star but he's not, and that's why Dewey's so relatable. He' totally a man child and can't be bothered playing the rent because he's got to win battle of the bands. He just wants to rock too hard at the expense of playing a good show."

Brent Hill and Amy Lehpamer in a scene from School of Rock The Musical.
Brent Hill and Amy Lehpamer in a scene from School of Rock The Musical. Supplied

This isn't Hill's first rock musical. He won the 2011 Green Room Award for his leading role in Rock of Ages - the WAAPA-trained actor's first musical theatre role.

"I got convinced to do an audition for Rock of Ages... I just went in there and winged it," he says.

"There was this bizarre where moment I got up and realised I hadn't figured out any choreography and I started doing this thing which I call squat rock, where I was just squatting and pointing into the middle distance. It worked I guess. As one of my mentors says 'Be good, be bad, just don't be boring'."

As a multi instrumentalist who can play violin, drums, guitar and piano, Hill is in awe of his young co-stars. School of Rock features a rotating cast of 36 children who sing, act and play all of their instruments live on stage.

A scene from School of Rock The Musical.
A scene from School of Rock The Musical. Supplied

"We have three teams of kids and they rotate. It means the show is different every time, which keeps it alive and fresh," he says.

"They're super professional and they're incredible musicians, thespians and artists. In eight years' time they'll be freakin' rock stars.

"It's very moving to see young adults being able to do this. The show is about the empowerment of kids through music and about the parents listening to who their children are."

School of Rock The Musical opens at QPAC's Lyric Theatre on July 12 and runs through August 11.



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