Jack Black starred on screen as the fake teacher who spent his classes sharing his love of rock music with his students and forming a band with them. It’s an enduring feel-good hit, and audiences have also flocked to the musical interpretation of the Andrew Lloyd Webber story.
His UK theater tour began in September and ends this Saturday 30 July in Sheffield, marking the end of a remarkable time for Hanley Webb, who just turned 11 in June – and his final year of junior school at that has combined to be on stage the country.
Due to the young age of the performers there were four groups of bands and three groups of ensembles so Hanley was touring every other week for 12 months – two bands leaving and playing every other show at the same time.
Between shows, we asked Hanley, who was born in Banbury and lived there for five years before the family moved near Brackley, how he got started playing guitar and what it was like to be in a hit musical.
At what age did you start playing the guitar and what sparked your love for music?
I started playing when I was 5 years old, my dad plays bass guitar in a cover band and it looked pretty cool so I thought I’d give it a try.
Do you come from a musical family?
My father loves all kinds of music and is always listening and playing it in one form or another. My mom can sing so she helped me learn all my vocals for School of Rock.
When did you start taking lessons and where did you spend the hours leading up to your amazing 8th grade in electric guitar, which you passed with honors?
First my dad taught me, then I started taking private lessons, I’ve had a few different teachers along the way, currently I’m attending XYZ Academy and have a great tutor.
What was the path that led to you getting the role in School of Rock?
We saw the advertised role and thought it would be fun to audition. We couldn’t believe it when we got a reply asking for more audition material. At each stage I kept getting called back for more auditions and then had to wait quite a long time to hear because I didn’t know if or when the show could or would start. I finally found out in April last year. I came home from school and my parents had decorated the kitchen, bought lots of my favorite treats and made me a banner that said “You’re in the band” and that’s how I found out I’d passed! I had never acted, sung or auditioned for anything before so I just couldn’t believe it!
How did you feel when you got the role? had you seen the movie
Yes, I had seen the film a few times and thought it was very good. Like I said, I just couldn’t believe I had been chosen to play Zack Mooneyham and go on tour! it was crazy
How are the experiences?
It was brilliant, loved it. I was really fortunate to have made lifelong friends and it was an experience I will never forget. I’ve learned so much from some talented people and gained a lot of confidence and experience in the process.
What are you hoping to do next?
I will start secondary school in September and am really looking forward to it. I just finished my class 8 electric guitar [he was still 10 when he did the exam], which also earned me UCAS points and only recently found out about the competition that I came 3rd in a worldwide guitar solo competition that Phil X – lead guitarist of Bon Jovi – had so I was over the moon to hear that . How crazy Bon Jovi’s guitarist private message you at 5am! Nuts! I was also awarded student of the year by the academy I attend.
The show was well received and Hanley was mentioned in numerous reviews: “Hanley Webb wows everyone with his incredible guitar playing. He is a confident and accomplished musician who is sure to take the music industry by storm in the future.” – The Reviews Hub.com; “I really felt like I was going to see big-name stars-to-be on this stage – particularly Hanley Webb as the guitar-flinging songwriter Zack” – Leigh-on-Sea.com; “Hanley Webb in particular, who plays lead guitarist Zack tonight, is truly a young Brian May in the making” – groupleisureandtravel.com
He also has a YouTube channel – look for Hanley Webb.