Sunday, December 09, 2007

REV: High School Musical

Okay, this is hard. People who know me know my general hatred for musicals. Odd since i'm so deep into theatre, and have a background in music, and teach both. Perhaps even more absurd since i wrote and am preparing to produce a musical of my own . . .

So, i'm confessing here a guilty pleasure in liking High School Musical. Ever since it appeared i've been itching to see it performed live, maybe even put it on. It's just one of those things, like people secretly playing the cello. I'm not real sure why it has me fired up, but i know i like that it has such a positive message without being overly sappy, and that it has such catchy tunes, and that it is constant-action-based -- and likely for one more good reason, the opposite of why i hate most musicals -- it actually has a story and the songs serve the story, not vice versa. It helps that it's inward-looking, that it's a musical about making a musical, still . . . it does so successfully. And finally, it has a whole generation of kids suddenly enthralled with theatre and music, and well . . . musicals. And that is nothing but good. But it's a piece of this very generation, and to not do it now risks its passing from the pantheon of cool.

So, i've been talking it up, trying to get some someone locally to produce it. Finally, someone did, Bandera Middle Schools -- with Sandy Jennings at the helm -- and i heard The Point may be taking a stab at it too.

So, kudos to Sandy and Dan and all for getting this off the ground. They had outstanding help apparently from a walk-in producer who happened to be able to supply both a complete set and a ton of enthusiasm. That would be Cal Collins Productions.

The show itself was outstanding, not only from the standpoint of a bunch of junior highers putting it on, but from the standpoint too of simply putting on a great show.

All the performers were good -- standouts in my mind were the sibling Evans pair -- Reannah Wyatt as Sharpay, who certainly had the look and the attitude down, and was superb in delivering her lines, and Travis Stewart as Ryan, who i thought the best actor onstage -- he could move, dance, act and sing (at least once he got past a little nervousness early on) and was clearly a center of attention while on stage. The central pair, Braxton Clouse as Troy Bolton and Makyla Jo Mann as Gabriella Montez, were also excellent, in voice and delivery and both have shining stage presence, and also i noted two others as fine actors -- the hilarious Nick Leeper as Jack Scott, and Justin Lema as Zeke Baylor; but everyone -- from the bubbly cheerleaders to the skate crew, to the brains, to the hoopsters, were wonderful. Congrats to everyone on a fine, fine show.

If i have any quibble, it's that there were very serious problems with the sound -- from garbled mikes, to too loud, to not nearly loud enough, to cell phone interference -- it was a veritable mismixed sonic mess which unfortunately strongly detracted from the fine work of the kids. I don't know from whence all the issues emanated, but something ought to be done to solve that before they stage anything else in that theatre.


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