Theatre Royal, Newcastle, 20 July 2009
If you’re looking for a feel-good show to take the kids to see during this week of the summer holidays, High School Musical is the production for you. With its catchy tunes, energetic dancing, romantic story and moral to the tale you’ll be engaged by the upbeat and memorising effect HSM has on you.
Gabriella (Claire-Marie Hall) and Troy (Ashley Day) meet on a karaoke stage on vacation, thinking their paths would never cross again. The academically gifted Gabriella is the new girl in school and soon fits in with the “brainiacs”. Troy on the other hand, is the school basketball captain and the thought of him auditioning for the school musical so he can sing again with Gabriella is unthinkable to his friends, the “jocks”. Both sets of friends join forces, together with the drama school regulars, to hatch a plan to foil them and return the school to its natural status quo.
Based on the 2006 Disney smash hit movie, the stage version doesn’t disappoint. The story starts the minute the curtain is raised; a vibrant sea of colours with clever lighting and good use of the sets telling the story with Lisa Stevens’s high-energy choreography complimenting the songs.
Day warms to you as Troy as the show progresses. With powerful vocals, he has good chemistry with Hall who performs well as the sugary-sweet Gabriella. As the drama school regulars and baddies of the piece, Sharpay (Emma Kelly) and Ryan (Lee Honey-Jones) get the best lines with a peppering of jokes only the parents pick up on. Damian Winter-Higgins) and Hannah Levane as Chad and Taylor respectively, provide good performances as the best friends of Troy and Gabriella.
With the added benefit of Mark Crossland’s live orchestra, the younger audience were on the edge of their seats each time they knew a favourite song (“Get’cha Head in the Game”, “We’re All in This Together” and “Breaking Free”) was approaching and enjoyed every minute. The production manages to retain their attention for the majority but it’s clear to see they are eagerly awaiting the finale and it doesn’t seem to disappoint.
By the end of the show, you can’t help but wanting a little bit more of this feel-good sugary treat.