For those unaware of the storyline, school basketball star Troy Bolton (Ashley Day) meets mathematics geek Gabriella Montez (Claire-Marie Hall) and both discover they have a mutual love of singing. They’re not cool for the kids of East High, whose school rules means that students shouldn’t leave the security of their cliques, but they eventually break free and win the leading roles in the school’s talent show.
Leads Day and Hall are excellent, performing outstandingly amidst a very enthusiastic audience; and the supporting cast were also very good, playing students from different peer groups very well, while the high-octane choreography also was outstanding and everyone worked well with it.
The stage adaptation of High School Musical does, however, have its faults. It seemed to lack some of the charisma of the film and its dialogue lost the attention of some of the younger children in attendance.
Nonetheless, the second act shows why the production is such a phenomenon, and is where the stage adaptation really finds its feet. The singing, the dancing and the energy dispel any flaws in the first act and the audience ate it up. This was what they came for and boy did they enjoy it! Particular highlights included performances of ‘We’re All In This Together’ and ‘Breaking Free’, both of which had the audience cheering and singing along.
The set is exceptional, slick in its design, and exuberant in colour. Set pieces move swiftly across the stage meaning that scene changes can occur in a matter of seconds – which is a fantastic technique for keeping the attention of over 1,000 young children in attendance!
High School Musical has a good message that everyone doesn’t have to conform to succeed, an excellent cast, and catchy songs which you’ll be humming for a good few hours after the show.
For many children across the region, this will be their first theatrical experience, and if they enjoyed it as much as they seemed to, then the Empire is onto a winner again.
- by David Jack