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Hammersmith High School Musical Opens in June

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Disney’s screen-to-stager High School Musical looks set to be as big a hit on this side of the Atlantic as it is in the US. A London production – separate to the previously announced UK regional tour, which launched an 11-month, 29-venue schedule last week at Bromley and has already sold out at many venues (See News, 3 Jul 2007) – has now been confirmed. It will start performances on 30 June 2008 at west London’s Hammersmith Apollo, where it’s initially booking until 9 August.

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.

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. The screen sequel, High School Musical 2, broke TV viewing records in both the US and UK.

In the US, the stage show has toured extensively, as has High School Musical: The Ice Tour, and the sequel will be available to license. Other European productions of the stage original are due to open soon in Italy, Spain and the Netherlands.

High School Musical 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. The UK 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.

The UK shows are produced by Stage Entertainment, in association with Disney Theatre Productions. Thomas Schumacher, president and producer of Disney Theatrical Productions, has said that “this remarkably popular title” is likely to introduce “countless young people to the world of theatre for the very first time. You can’t ask for more than that."

No casting has yet been announced for the London production, for which booking is due to open in the next week.

Following last week at Bromley (See News, 26 Nov 2007), the tour of High School Musical visits 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. The UK tour is expected to be seen by some 600,000 people and is already carrying a box office advance of £9 million.

- by Terri Paddock


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