Lisburn actress treads the boards with ‘School of Rock’ musical

There will be a warm homecoming for Lisburn actress Joanna O’Hare when she flies into Northern Ireland next week with the touring cast of Andrew Lloyd Webber musical ‘School of Rock’.

From the stage of Friends’ School Lisburn, and performing with local youth theatre company Fusion, Joanna is now firmly established in the West End and is delighted to be coming to Belfast’s Grand Opera House from November 9-13 with the cast of the acclaimed hit musical.

Joanna always had a passion for the stage and fondly remembers playing Eliza Dolitte at Friends when she was a student.

She was also a member of the award winning Lisburn company Fusion Theatre before going on to study drama at Mountview in London.

“I was always singing since I was no years old and I was introduced to musicals by my grandmother,” explained Joanna. “She’d been to Broadway and the West End and was always playing them.

“I was classically trained but when I was introduced to musicals I knew I wanted to go to drama school.”

After graduating, Joanna’s first professional job was in the West End smash hit musical ‘Phantom of the Opera’, which was a dream come true for the local performer.

“‘Phantom of the Opera’ in the West End was my first big musical and it was always my dream to do the show,” said Joanna. “It was a big achievement for me. It was so unbelievable and I loved it so much.”

Over the years Joanna has starred in a number of shows, and one of the most memorable for her was Kiss Me Kate at the Royal Albert Hall, which was screened on the BBC.

Most recently she joined the touring cast of ‘School of Rock’, spending six months on stage with the show in South Korea. “It was something completely unexpected,” continued Joanna. “I had travelled with work before but mainly in Europe. Anyone who can travel to South Korea should go in a heartbeat. It was the best six months of my life.”

Already familiar with the show, Joanna was delighted to join the cast of the UK touring production of ‘School of Rock’, and is particularly excited to be bringing it home to Belfast. “I grew up with the film,” explained Joanna, who is taking on the role of both a teacher and parent in the production. “It is the same story as the film but I think it surpasses the film.

“Coming home to Belfast is not something I get to do a lot but I really do feel that the Grand Opera House is a home for me, as I have done panto there for two years.

“The cast are excited about coming to Belfast as it is a great city, and it is fantastic when friends and family come to see the show.

“The really special part for me is that my grandparents can come to see the show.“

‘School of Rock’ follows wannabe rock star Dewey Finn after he is cast out by his dive-bar bandmates and finds himself in desperate need of cash.

Posing as a substitute music teacher at an elite prep school, he exposes his students to the rock gods he idolises, transforming them into a mind-blowing rock band.

“It is about young people realy finding themselves and finding their voice,” explained Joanna. “It is a joyous piece of theatre.”

Tickets for the show are on sale from the Grand Opera House Box Office and online at