Writer: David Simpatico
Director: Jeff Calhoun
Choreographer: Lisa Stevens
Reviewer: Jim Nicholson
Something strange came over me on my way out of the theatre tonight, I think its called a smile. Well, how did that happen as I had just seen ‘High School Musical 2’. What a shock to realise I had actually enjoyed myself! What next, admit to having been a ‘Spice Girls’ fan or perhaps even to have voted for ‘John and Edward’.
Now lets think, why did I enjoy it? The plot has the depth of a tyre tread, Les Dennis is ‘Les Dennis’, most of the songs are easily forgotten (by me) and Disney have spent pence on this compared to the likes of ‘The Lion King’ and ‘Beauty and the Beast’.
But what other stage musical could keep the attention of a thousand under nines in the audience for two and a quarter hours. These kids do not want a plot that calls for ‘Colombo’, in actual fact they get exactly what they want, a set of goodies, a horrid spoilt baddie funded by Daddies money who in the end sees the light and actually brings the boy hero, that she had wanted to steal, and our girl hero back together again.
The kids know all the songs, they sing along to every last lyric and this is when the show really does win over the likes of me and each and every child’s parents because the enthusiasm of the youngsters is passed onto us ‘olduns’ and this combined with such high energy on stage means you can not help but enjoy the night.
Kenneth Foy, the set designer, has come up with some simple but effective painted drop down scenery which gives a very unusual effect, such as the pool allowing our sunbathing beauties to be stood whilst appearing to sprawl on their lilos and the baseball diamond allowing a bases loaded home run with the aid of revolving doors.
The true songbird of the show is the fantastic Niki Mae, who as ‘Gabriella’ is the melodic pinnacle of many scenes. Liam Doyle also gives a good performance as our star pupil having won the GMTV ‘Search for a Troy’ competition.
Lisa Stevens choreography is high octane and a number of the dance routines also result in the full chorus sounding at its very best. Dance stars Matt Kennedy as ‘Ryan Evans’ and Spin (what a stage name!) as ‘Zeke Baylor’ lead the company in a fantastic staging of ‘Humuhumunukunukuapua’a’ where the volcanoes erupt in grand fashion. Spin, along with Carlton Connell, who plays ‘Chad Danforth’, bring foot tapping percussion to the kitchen as every utensil plays its part in a great version of ‘Work This Out’.
Although not a big fan of Lauren Halls, ‘Sharpay Evans’, singing voice (was I meant to be?), there is no doubt she really gets the spoilt Daddies girl off to a tee.
If you have a nipper badgering you for a night out at HSM2 and you are thinking ‘not a chance’, think again, you will actually enjoy it. Ps I did not really vote for ‘John and Edward’, honest!
Photos: Eric Richmond
Runs until Sat 31st Oct