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|A CurtainUp London Review
High School Musical
High School Musical is quite the most cynical, exploitative event designed to extricate as much cash as possible from parents of primary school children. In the massive Apollo at Hammersmith (3,500 seats) hordes of pre teens carrying their cheerleader pompoms prepare to scream and clap their way through this event. The top price seats for adults (£45) carry a reduction for children. Yes, a magnaminous £5 off, so tickets for one parent and two children will set you back £125. Now should you want a programme that will be £7 . . . . . a souvenir will be at least another £10 and should you have not brought enough cash with you (highly likely) they will charge another £1.50 for card transactions. All this for a mediocre show with bad acting, terrible choreography, appalling sound levels with microphone distortion, and with a plot opening largely ripped off from Grease.
The chain is only as strong as its weakest link.— Coach Bolton
The audience doesn't help. In an effort to show appreciation, the tweenies clap through the soft, musical ballads completely spoiling any romantic atmosphere. The high energy cast do best in the basketball scenes when their ball skills are to the fore.
The storyline groans as science and maths girl geek and "braniac" Gabriella Montez (Claire-Marie Hall) auditions for the school production of Romeo and Juliet with sports fanatic "jock" Troy Bolton (Mark Evans) and outs brother and sister act twins Sharpay Evans (Rebecca Faulkenberry) and Ryan Evans (Michael Pickering). At some point a scheduling hitch forces a choice between the drama event, the science quiz and a basketball match and the starry couple re-examine their priorities. Letitia Dean as the drama teacher, once seen in BBC television’s EastEnders, plays it up to pantomime levels— overly loud, overacted and over the top.
The Second Act is marginally better than the First. Fortunately I wasn’t sitting immediately behind one of the annoying, fluffy light sabres which were sold by the management so that the view could be completely ruined for those sitting behind them being waved around to the music. I loved the way this was permitted but anyone using a flash camera was immediately pounced upon by ushers. I haven’t seen the Disney Channel film but surely it's not as unprofessional as this show.
A colleague of mine had offered to take her eight year old niece to High School Musical. The niece declined. Why? Because they’re not the people in the film who will be on stage. Good choice!
High School Musical
Original Movie Writer: Peter Barsocchini
Book by David Simpatico
Directed by Jeff Calhoun
Starring: Mark Evans, Claire-Marie Hall, Rebecca Faulkenberry, Damian Winter-Higgins, Nadine Higgin, Letitia Dean, Norman Bowman
With: Dylan Turner, Hollie Taylor, Ben Nicholas, Laurie Scarth, Gregor Stewart, Simon Hardwick, Nyroy Dixon, Matt Flint, Adam Bracegirdle, Paul Riddiford, Stevie Hitchinson, Matthew Russell-Jones, Lauren Varnham, Kirsty McDonald, Helen Morris, Stephanie Siadatan, Maxine Ewenson, Carly Mercedes Dyer, Samantha Tan, Hayley Griffths, Chris Milford, Carl Au, Karli Vale, Sarah Louise Warden.
Scenic Design: Kenneth Foy
Choreographer: Lisa Stevens
Lighting: Ken Billington
Sound: Duncan Robert Edwards
Songwriters: Bryan Louiselle, Matthew Gerrard, Robbie Nevil, Greg Cham, Drew Seeley,
Randy Petersen & Kevin Quinn, Adam Watts & Andy Dodd, David Lawrence, Faye Greenberg, Jamie Houston
Music Producer: Bryan Louiselle
Running time: Two hours 10 minutes with one interval
Box Office: 08448472397
Booking to 31st August 2008
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 8th July 2008 performance at The Hammersmith Apollo Queen Caroline street London W6 (Tube: Hammersmith)
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