Amy Lehpamer, actor, School of Rock

I have a lot of love for all the women I've played. In getting to know them, they've taught me a lot about myself ...

School of Rock is one of those feel-good films that will probably be favourably remembered long into the future. The combination of Jack Black’s idiosyncratic comedic performance, a touching story and a soundtrack of classic-rock hits created an instant classic with endless re-watchability. Broadway icon Andrew Lloyd Webber brought the story to the stage in 2015, featuring an original score composed by Lloyd Webber alongside the music from the original film. The resulting production has been described as a ‘high-octane smash’, and Brisbane audiences will soon be able to take in the spectacle for themselves when School of Rock hits QPAC from July 12. Ahead of the show’s run, we caught up with Amy Lehpamer, who plays the uptight headmistress of Horace Green Prep School Rosalie Mullins, to chat about bringing the film to the stage and her own introduction to music.

What first drew you into acting, and is it still something you love about this work?
Ive always loved movies, and from my earliest years would commit lines to memory and recreate scenes at home with my sister or with friends at school. And now, its what I love most about my work.

Can you remember your very first acting role? (Doesnt have to be a professional role = a school play or extracurricular theatre group would be perfect!)
I went to drama classes in primary school and was cast as Peter Pan in our end of year play when I was nine or ten. I went off to the hairdresser and cut off all my hair for the role, absolutely unprompted.

You play headmistress Rosalie Mullins in the live stage production of School of Rock – do you recall your thoughts on the movie when it first came out?
I remember loving it! And it not being too long from the first watch to the second and third.

The role was made famous by Joan Cusack in the hit film = what are the pros and cons of taking on a theatre adaptation of such a successful movie?
I make a point to not re-watch the movie once I know I’m auditioning for a film-stage adaptation. The script of the musical has enough character information for me to work with, and I try to create my version from there. That said, I love Joan Cusack, and the fact that she has a kooky streak allows me a little confidence that the audience won’t mind me revealing mine.

What’s been your biggest challenge in playing the straight-laced, uptight principal of Horace Green Prep School?
Being uptight. I’m a little more expressive than Rosalie, so I have to be careful not to give too much away in the early stages of the show.

The stage version brings all the original tunes from the movie plus 14 new tracks courtesy of Andrew Lloyd Webber – what’s your personal favourite song from the show?
I love ‘You’re in the Band’ because it’s where the kids first discover their new rock personas. And my song in act two, ‘Where Did The Rock Go’ is a great ALW rock ballad.

In your opinion, why should Brisbane audiences make sure they don’t miss this show?
It’s properly funny and will also make your heart burst with pride and joy. The kids are extraordinary and the show takes you on a brilliant journey with a live rock’n’roll soundtrack.

Few of us get as thorough an introduction into the world of music as the kids in School of Rock. Do you remember the first CD you ever bought or were given?
The first CD I bought was Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill. I was definitely too young to own it, but it certainly informed the development of my inner rock goddess.

You’ve taken on a diverse range of roles in your acting career so far – from Dusty Springfield to Maria von Trapp and Margaret Fulton – which has been your favourite character to play, and why?
That feels like asking a parent to pick their favourite child! I have a lot of love for all the women I’ve played. In getting to know them, they’ve taught me a lot about myself. That said, playing Maria was an actual dream of mine come true, so that does take up a special part of my heart.

Catch Amy and the rest of the School of Rock cast rock out on stage at QPAC from July 12. Purchase your tickets here.

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