Review: High School Musical

Theatre Royal, Glasgow

2 Stars (2 / 5)

Troy and Gabriella are caught between the expectations of their peers and their desire to showcase their true interests and talents in the school’s upcoming musical.

Stage Experience, a two week performing arts course that seeks to give young people a taste of life in the arts and brings us their production of High School Musical. The hit Disney Channel musical has managed to maintain popularity even over ten years after its release. Although this story is nothing new in theme or content to anyone watching, the straight faced earnestness of it walks the fine line between saccharine and endearing well enough to account for its continued popularity, and considering its intended audience, this approach has great success.

The cast are full of talented young stars.  Alastair McLeod and Anna Cowen, who portray Alastair and Gabriella respectively, are competent performers and signers, both bringing a good amount of life to their roles. The show is somewhat stolen however by the supporting cast, with particular mention to Laura Denton, playing Sharpay Evans, whose acting prowess would be impressive in a performer of twice her experience. Another stand out was Marcus Hyka, playing Ryan Evans, a performer with a rare combination of sing ability, dance prowess and impressive comic timing. The rest of the cast and chorus perform their roles with impressive ability, especially considering their age, and each of them surely has a bright future ahead of them in the preforming arts.

The same cannot however be said for the professionals involved in the show. The direction is solid if simplistic and the set is competently designed and executed, but beyond the show is extremely lacking. The sloppy choreography can be somewhat mitigated by the time limit imposed on the production, but fair more care and attention should have been given when showcasing these young talents. What is truly inexcusable is horrific and negligent sound design; perhaps that staff at the kings considered attention and proper execution of their equipment beneath them for a group of youngsters, but when whole songs are rendered unintelligible one can’t help doubt the integrity of those supposed to be giving them a taste of what life is like in theatre, not a poor quality, low effort, cheap facsimile.

The production was impressively performed and the program well-intentioned, one can only hope that the young talents involved are inspired by the positives of this experience and experience a more attentive technical staff in what one hopes are long and prosperous future careers.