Sheffield student wows in West End’s School of Rock

A Sheffield pupil has taken the West End by storm in the Andrew Lloyd Webber hit musical ‘School of Rock’.

By Alana Roberts
Saturday, 27 July, 2019, 14:52
Nayan Gupta has been starring as Freddy is the West End production of the School of Rock (Photo: Rory Neal-McKenzie)

Nayan Gupta, age 11, from Millhouses, is starring as rebellious drummer Freddy Hamilton in the West End hit musical, performing up to eight shows a week to packed out crowds at the Gillian Lynne Theatre in Drury Lane.

The Birkdale student harboured a love for music from a young age thanks to his mother Nadi, who can play various instruments including the violin.

Nayan Gupta has been starring as Freddy in the West End production of the School of Rock

But it was only after receiving lessons around four years ago from school drum teacher Toni Cannelli that his own musical talent blossomed.

A member of the Sheffield Music Academy and The National Children’s Orchestras of Great Britain, Nayan originally went for the role in June 2017 at the age of nine after auditions came to the city.

But after initially being told he was too young he was brought back to the West End to train, eventually landing a six-month contract which was later extended.

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Now, having nearly completed a year on the West End, he is looking forward to his final show on August 18 and to a future in which he can pursue a career in theatre.

Nayan said: “I am coming to the end of my run in School of Rock the Musical and I have had the best time ever. I made my professional West End debut playing Freddy and performing on stage in the West End was a dream come true. I have made so many new friends and some very special memories.”

Nayan’s dad Vik Gupta, 42, said: “He’s been really great in the show and we’re just so proud of him. He had only ever done school plays before so to see him on stage in the West End is amazing. We have always supported him through the show and as he goes into senior school I think he’d like to explore theatre even more.

“He now wants to enjoy his time with his school friends and hopes to go back to the West End soon.”

Produced by Paramount Pictures, the 2003 hit film School of Rock starred Jack Black as out-of-work guitarist Dewey Finn who, after being thrown out of his bar band, joins an elite private elementary school as a substitute music teacher where he exposes his students to the hard rock gods he idolises.

It was later turned into a musical, making its Broadway debut in 2015 before coming to the West End a year later.

Nayan stars as part of three teams of 12 children who make up Dewey’s band and play live at every show.