IT is refreshing when a stage version of a famous film turns out to be even more fun than the movie.

School of Rock - the Olivier award-winning Andrew Lloyd Webber musical - is on a huge UK and Irekand tour. If you feel like some hi-energy escapism then this is just the top-grade show for you.

Many musical interpretations could learn a lesson or two from this two hour and 20 minute production which features songs from the soundtrack and new numbers combining Mr Webber's music and lyrics from Glenn Slater of Sister Act fame.

You're In the Band, Stick it to the Man and If Only You Would Listen are three highlights in a carefully-crafted piece of storytelling.

There's great jokes too from the topical and self-effacing to the visual and there's even some romance, too. Indeed, this a theatrical timetable packed with pace, vitality and spot-on timing.

In the movie Jack Black made a great impact as uncouth rock wannabee musican Dewey Finn who earns a few extra bucks as an imposter music teacher Ned Schneebly at the posh Horace Green private school.

Dewey is an uqualified substitute who eventually proves a hit with the A-list children, who see that he is actually untapping their individuality through rock music and not the classical route they have had imposed on them.

Jake Sharp stamps his own mark - he is razor sharp as the likeable, versatile lead star.

Before the show (directed by Laurence Connor), Lloyd Webber's voice-over reveals that all the children really are playing their instruments live. They are all stars, too.

They are simply outsanding - solo and collectively.

It would be unfair to pick out one talented youngster from the team of 12 as they act together as a very tight, formidable ensemble.

There are many fun, laugh-out-loud moments notably in the staff room and a buzz during the Battle of the Bands competition which all leads to a fabulous, dazzling finale. A modern day fairy tale of sorts.

Even Dewey gets dewy-eyed over Ms Rosalie Mullins - a fully rounded, delightful performance by Rebecca Lock.

It is an upbeat, inspiring show and one that I would happily see again.

Even an unexpected, unsettling evacuation of the Empire building - lasting an hour - could not dampen the momentum. When the cast returned to the stage they picked up where they left had left off.

The show did go on minus an interval and - judging by the smiles on the faces of young and old audience members - the unscripted detention didn't affect their enjoyment of this smashing show one bit.

Globe verdict: Four Gold Stars

Happy School Daze!

The show's Liverpool Empire run ends on Saturday. Tickets from the box office on 0844871 7615