High School Musical is exactly what it says.
The storyline is almost too familiar (I kept thinking ‘I’ve seen that bit somewhere else before’) with wannabes, Jocks, geeks, miscellaneous others, nasty plotting and counterplotting and the idea that there is never any limit to ambition – as well as the obligatory happy ending.
With those reservations in mind I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this production by the very talented EMUS.
Troy Bolton is a Jock who is smitten by Gabriella Montez, a geek, whilst on their winter skiing holiday. Back at school they audition for the upcoming school musical. But regular ‘stars’, Sharpay Evans and her twin brother Ryan are determined to keep their status at any cost. But Troy, captain of the school basketball team, is needed for a Championship game and Gabriella is needed for the brainiacs challenge in the science decathlon – at precisely the time that the cunning Sharpay has connived to re-arrange the final call back for the school musical auditions. But both the brainiacs and the baseball team plot to ensure that the couple can attend…
Ethan Lee – who has had an ambition to be in this musical since he first found out about it - made a fine Troy Bolton, with a smashing singing voice and acting which portrayed his divided loyalties to his team and Gabriella very well. I was also impressed by Daya Khosse as Gabriella – once again lovely singing combined with a well-acted portrayal of the conflict faced. Their would-be nemeses Sharpay and Ryan, were played by Emily Bridge and Ethan Fletcher, Emily clearly relishing her ‘baddie’ role which she combined with a good singing voice and Ethan playing her camp sidekick twin who eventually sees the light, with a good sense of comedy, balancing Sharpay’s naked cunning.
I was extremely impressed by Eliza Charnock as Ms Darbus, the drama teacher who clearly lives, breathes and probably dreams about nothing but theatre. In a performance that produced howls of laughter from the audience I thought that Eliza judged the line between comic and manic very well – not easy. Good comedy is a serious business.
And Reuben Gotts did a good job as driven basketball coach and Troy’s dad, Coach Bolton.
Of other principals I also thought that Charlie Pierson had a commanding presence on stage, very convincing as Troy’s best friend, Chad Danforth. And, clearly enjoying his job as ‘the velvet fog of East High’, William Robbins made a very confident school radio announcer, Jack Scott.
After what I thought was a slightly uncertain start on their first night, the rest of the cast – sadly too numerous to mention – with gathering confidence, all made admirable contributions to the evening’s entertainment.
At times diction was a little unclear, especially during some of the chorus numbers. Maybe a little fine tuning on sound balance would also help.
Costuming was very good with nice changes for the principals, the set was attractive, straightforward and practical – and what a great effort to create the illuminated pink wonder that was Sharpay’s locker!
Many thanks EMUS for inviting me to your very enjoyable, entertaining, show.