By Casey Neill
Ferntree Gully’s Caleb Elbourne hadn’t seen the School of Rock movie when he auditioned for the musical’s Melbourne run.
“When I got multiple call backs we got the movie and watched,” he said.
“It was very different to what I thought it was going to be but it was good.”
It’s lucky the 11-year-old enjoyed the tale of wannabe rock star Dewey Finn, who poses as a substitute teacher and turns straight-A students into a rock band.
He’ll appear as pianist-turned-keyboardist Lawrence in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s School of Rock at Her Majesty’s theatre from 31 October.
He’s among 36 young performers from around the country who’ll share the key roles.
“Before I auditioned for this I’d only played piano so keyboard was new to me,” Caleb said.
“I’d been playing the piano for eight or nine years.”
He started after hearing his mum play and thinking that seemed fun.
“I decided that I wanted to learn piano too so I asked her to teach me a song,” he said.
“She taught me Hot Cross Buns and I played that for hours throughout the day.
“She then taught me a new one and it went on from there.
“It’s a way to express my feelings.”
Caleb can also play trombone, trumpet, tuba…
“I really love jazz piano, and improvising,” he said.
The School of Rock process connected him with other kids his age with a similar passion for music.
“When we started rehearsals I finally found someone else I could talk,” he said.
Caleb has been acting since he was in Grade 3.
“Before that I was really shy,” he said.
“My mum decided she would make me join this drama club.
“I did that for a few years and that built up my confidence.
“I just grew into it, and I liked it.”
He’s performed in a school production, but nothing like what’s ahead.
“This is my first professional one,” he said.
“I’m surprisingly not too nervous.
“I’m sure I will be before I go out on the first night.”
His Wantirna South school is planning to bring his class along to one performance.
Caleb has been juggling schoolwork and rehearsals for the past few months.
“We have tutoring in the morning and rehearsals until the end of the day,” he said.
“We have two days off a week.
“It’s busy. I’ve kind of gotten used to it.”
Andrew Lloyd Webber watched the audition tapes for the Melbourne production.
“We’ve got great kids in a show that is all about how music can empower children,” he said.
Visit SchoolofRock.com.au for more information.