As the School of Rock UK tour rocks on, we sat down with Matthew Rowland and Nadia Violet Johnson aka Ned Schneebly and Patty Di Marco to catch up about the show, tour life, favourite moments and more.
Let’s kick off with Matthew and his thoughts about the show!
Matthew Rowland / Ned Schneebly
Hi, Matthew! Can you introduce yourself, and tell us about your character in School of Rock?
My name is Matthew and I play the role of Ned Schneebly in School of Rock. Ned and Dewey met at High School and used to play in a band together. Now, Dewey rents a room in Ned’s apartment which he shares with high flyer girlfriend Patty. Dewey and Patty don’t see eye to eye and as Dewey falls behind on rent and continues to irritate Patty, she increases the pressure on Ned to do something about it. Ned has quashed his love for Rock Music as he strives to land his dream teaching role at one of the best schools in the city and impress his love, Patty.
What is your favourite and least favourite thing about Ned?
Ned has the best intentions and only wants to please people. He is constantly trying to manage the inevitable arguments between Dewey and Patty. I love the kindness of his heart and his goofy nature, when he allows himself to show it.
My least favourite thing about Ned is that he puts himself in a position for people to take advantage of him, and in doing so he is always slightly on edge or panicked. So it’s really nice to see him find the strength to change that.
Are you a fan of the School of Rock movie? How does Ned differ in the musical vs the movie?
I am a huge fan of the movie. I remember imagining what a teacher would say if I ever said “you’re tacky and I hate you” to them. Ned doesn’t actually feature quite as much in the movie as he does in our show. I would say he is slightly calmer than the Ned we meet in the musical, and less neurotic. It’s definitely a lot of fun to play this version of Ned.
Tell us about your favourite moment(s) in the show, and why you love them!
One of my favourite moments is “You’re in the Band”. I remember the first time we did this in the rehearsal room, my jaw was on the floor at the amazing talent from our younger company members on the instruments. You can feel the excitement from the audience as they begin to play and it is always a massive rush. Another favourite moment for me is the transformation I get to have at the end. It all happens very quickly so I feel like a real rock star, and hopefully look like half of one too!
What’s your favourite song from the show?
I love “If Only You Would Listen”. It is a really powerful message and I love how it is played directly out to the audience. It makes me think about how lucky I was as a young person to always have the backing of those around me!
What was your favourite subject in school?
Definitely Drama! I remember taking it very seriously and wishing everyone else would do the same. I would spend any break time or lunchtime making up a dance routine or practising a scene. I found my group of friends from doing school productions and Drama always felt like an escape from normal school!
Lastly, why should audiences come and see School of Rock’s UK tour, and what dates/places are coming up?
It is unlike any other show – you have live music played by children, an incredible book and a story you know and love. You are guaranteed to laugh, you might cry a bit and you will definitely walk away feeling like one of the band!
And now, to Nadia aka Patty to answer some more questions!
Nadia Violet Johnson aka Patty Di Marco
Hi, Nadia – it’s a pleasure to talk with you. Let’s dive in… how would you describe your character Patty in a few words?
She’s “Stronger than your Dad!” – a reference from the show there.
What drew you to School of Rock, and playing Patty in particular?
I just love Patty’s strength of character. She’s so determined and headstrong. Although she can come across quite bullish, from spending time with/as her, I’ve come to understand that she’s mostly hard on Ned out of love for him. She aspires to have a great future with him. She’s worked very hard and faced a lot of obstacles to get to where she has. She won’t let anything take that away from her or the people she loves! Also the fact that Matthew Rowland plays the part of Ned Schneebly – he’s a dream to work with!
If you could introduce those who haven’t seen the tour to the show via one song or scene, which would it be and why?
I’d say ‘Stick it to the Man’ would be a great place to start. I think it perfectly encapsulates the kids’ musical talents with this epic sense of rebellion they find. I think one of the themes of the show is how important it is to find your voice and be unapologetically yourself. I think the song definitely embodies those themes.
What is it like working with the young cast of School of Rock?
It’s incredible. We’ve almost completed the tour now and I’m still as in awe of them as I was when we first started rehearsals. They are so young but their abilities are far beyond their years. They work so hard and always bring an amazing energy, on and off stage. There have also been so many times when they’ve encouraged me as I’ve come off stage after a scene saying things like “Well done, Nadia!” or “That was great!” It’s so nice to have such supportive and kind colleagues!
If you could pick any other part to play in School of Rock (at any age), which would you choose?
I’d play Theo. I’ve always wanted to front a rock band and I love his confidence.
Do you have a favourite city or performance from the tour so far?
I loved Belfast. Exploring the city was so much fun and the local people were so warm and welcoming.
Lastly, what do you think audiences will be feeling after leaving the show? Can you describe it in a sentence?
I’d hope audiences come away from the show feeling like they’ve had a whale of a time!
Thanks so much for talking with us, Matthew and Nadia – and a huge congratulations, as always, on your incredible performances in the show. Rock on!
Experience School Of Rock On Tour
Make sure not to miss out on School of Rock’s UK Tour, and ensure you’re in the band by stopping by one of the upcoming performance destinations before they sell out! Upcoming locations include Crawley, Dublin, Liverpool, Southampton and Sheffield.
Book your tickets here for a rip-roaring time packed with talented performers, unforgettable music and more.