Full casting has now been announced for the UK premiere of Disney’s screen-to-stage hit High School Musical, which launches an extended 11-month, 29-venue UK-wide tour from Bromley’s Churchill Theatre on 24 January 2008 (See News, 3 Jul 2007).

The stage adaptation tells how Troy, a popular high school basketball star, and Gabriella, a shy, academically gifted newcomer, discover they share a secret passion for singing. When they sign up together to audition for the lead roles in the school musical, it threatens East High's rigid social order and sends their peers into uproar.

Ashley Day (whose West End credits include On the Town and Mary Poppins) and Lorna Want (last seen as the mistress in Michael Grandage’s revival of Evita at the Adelphi Theatre) star as Troy and Gabriella. The other principals are Helen George (as Sharpay), Lee Honey-Jones (Ryan), Carlton Connell (Chad), Hannah Levane (Taylor), Claire Machin, Mark Dickinson, Cathryn Davis, Jennifer Tanarez, Richard Vincent and Dominic Tribuzio.

The 34-strong cast also includes Ashley Andrews, Drew Campbell, Matthew Cheney, Dan Cooke, Lewis Greenslade, Natalie Hope, Mark Hilton, Robert Jones, Sarah Kitson, Richard Leeson, Buchi Osuji, Simone Palmer, Soeli Parry, Tania Pieri, Jessica Phillips, David Purdue, Amy Ross, Bonnie Laura Smith and Charlotte Walcotte.

Since its US premiere in January 2006, the made-for-TV Disney movie High School Musical has gone on to become a global phenomenon. Winner of two Emmy Awards, the soundtrack has been certified Double Platinum in the UK alone, while DVD sales have topped 1.6 million. In the US, a concert production toured last year with most of the original cast. And earlier this year, the screen sequel, High School Musical 2, broke TV viewing records in both the US and UK.

The stage adaptation features a book by David Simpatico (adapted from the original movie script by Peter Barsocchini) and a score including songs “Breaking Free” and “We’re All in This Together”, plus two new numbers written especially for the tour. The production is directed by Jeff Calhoun, designed by Kenneth Foy and choreographed by Lisa Stevens, with costumes by Wade Laboissonniere, lighting by Ken Billington, sound by Rick Clarke and musical production by Bryan Louiselle.

High School Musical is produced by Stage Entertainment, in association with Disney Theatre Productions. Thomas Schumacher, president and producer of Disney Theatrical Productions, said: "As someone who has been passionate about theatre since I was a kid, I am thrilled that we will be touring this remarkably popular title as a fully realised stage production, and most certainly introducing countless young people to the world of theatre for the very first time. You can’t ask for more than that."

Following Bromley, High School Musical will visit Stoke-on-Trent, Norwich, Edinburgh, York, Wolverhampton, Woking, Leicester, Southend-on-Sea, Nottingham, Bradford, Southampton, Hull, Birmingham, Milton Keynes, Wimbledon, Manchester, Bristol, Newcastle, Glasgow, Oxford, Liverpool, Canterbury, Northampton, Belfast, Aberdeen, Plymouth, Cardiff and Leeds, where it finishes the year on 6 December 2008.

- by Terri Paddock