We’ve all grown up knowing the tale of two famous star-crossed lovers in a production that has proved timeless: High School Musical’s (HSM) very own Troy Bolton and Gabriella Montoya. As distinguished and iconic as the original Disney movie was, the Just So Society, in collaboration with On the Rocks 2019, managed to pull off a musical rendition that maintained both the quality and humour of the original movie, despite a few technical errors. Through many weeks of hard work and rehearsals, the cast and crew of the Just So Society energetically told the story of a couple of high schoolers at East High defying the status quo.
High School Musical on Stage follows the same plot as the first HSM movie and featured many of the same songs that graced our televisions back in ’06. The musical maintained the integrity of the leading songs featured in the movie, such as “Start of Something New,” “Stick to the Status Quo” and “Bop to the Top,” pairing them with theatrical dancing that kept the audience interested throughout the entire production.
Not only were the songs lively, but the actors and actresses were as well. Gabriella, played by Bethan Evans, hit every note without fail while seamlessly dancing while she did so. Beckett Hunecke played Troy, the star basketball player of East High. Even though his microphone was malfunctioning, his acting brought the character to life, both in and out of the spotlight; he never broke character. Sharpay and Ryan Evans, played by Hannah Gilchrist and Linus Erbach, were spot on! Their characters were hilarious and their relationship on the stage mirrored that of the characters in the movie. Although Sharpay’s style lacked the iconic pink motif emphasised in the movie, Hannah still exuded the essence of Sharpay Evans while strutting and dancing around the stage. Linus Erbach also played his character extremely well by delivering several one-liners and one amazing death drop that left the audience cheering. Similarly, Alice Gold owned the role of Ms. Darbus. Her unerring impression of the enthusiastic drama teacher was identical to that of the character in the movie, gong and all!
Although the featured actors and actresses represented East High and HSM well, special recognition is owed to the ensemble who brought the show to another level. Everyone stayed in character and made the crowd laugh despite their lack of lines; that requires serious acting skill. Specifically, chorus member Becky Lillicrap had the audience cracking up throughout the entire performance. Between her interpretation of an earthworm and her facial expressions, she had the audience watching her interact with the other cast members in the background even while there was action happening in the front of the stage.
As the East High students learned to defy the standards of traditional high school cliques and established social rules, the dialogue was lost during several scenes due to an overly loud speaker and some malfunctioning headsets. However, despite the technical difficulties, the cast and crew of High School Musical on Stage produced a show that represents the film well, especially during the finale where the cast danced to “We’re All in This Together” using the movie’s famous choreography. Simply, the nuances of the production brought the entire show together!