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High School Musical

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Even though there may be no more High School Musical movies, that has not dampened the enthusiasm of HSM fans all over the world.

This Disney hit transferred to the stage last year and has toured extensively and appeared in the West End. HSM 2 is on the way, so now is as good a time as any to reaquaint yourselves with the jocks and the geeks.

Like Grease but minus the adult situations, the plot centres on Troy, the football jock (Ashley Day) and his braniac girlfriend, Gabriella (Claire-Marie Hall) and their attempts to stay together, complicated by their opposing commitments at High School. These kids are cute and fizzy, like bottles of pop, but lack the edginess of Danny Zuko and his T Birds. And if you’re looking for a Rizzo, she’s not here, either.

But, anyone who loves a good villain does get rewarded with two value-for-money baddies in the guise of Sharpay and Ryan, a brother and sister from Disney hell. She is v. legally blonde; mobile attached to her ear, looking fantastic in plastic and he is bleach blonde with jazz hands. These two do save you from nutrasweet overload on several occasions, thanks to game performances from Emma Kelly and Lee Honey-Jones. They almost wink at you, and the audience willingly applaud and laugh whenever they are on stage.

All the songs your kids know and love are here, including, “Breaking Free” which still has the power to leave you soaring. Some of them lack a good solid hook, but what they lack in terms of chorus, they gain in exuberance, thanks to the excellent cast who are as energetic as ever.

The concept is clearly riped off from Rydell High, but there is something wholesome and heartwarming here, beyond the pearly white teeth and pom poms.

The leads work their HSM socks off, even when saddled with the corny “Let’s Put On A Show” type lines. Day is totally comfortable as Troy, as he has toured the role for a while now. Hall seems slightly unsure of herself but I am sure she will grow into the role. Vocally, they are both spot-on and as for the ensemble, they display unending athleticism.

The audience on the night I attended loved this touring production and screamed and cheered during the finale.

If you can handle lots of sugar, this sweet romance will work its magic on you too.

-Glenn Meads


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