High School Musical review


Having forgotten to arrange a ticket before the November 19 debut of the fall High School production High School Musical, I can safely say sneaking in proved worth the risk.

The tone of the performance was set when the curtain opened to an ensemble scene with well executed cues, dance choreography that created an ethereal atmosphere and an exhilaration that carried on throughout the night.

The story of male lead Troy Bolton, the basketball star sick of playing basketball played by Rowan Yearly (’16), and Gabriella Montez, the nerdy new kid and female lead played by Gabriela Wilson (’17), came to fruition in this opening scene –  the foundation for their respective struggles to overcome the molds of high school expertly set up.

The energy between this duo was contrasted perfectly by Eliot Konzal (’17) playing Sharpay Evans and Josey Troyer (’17) playing her brother, Ryan Evans. Competing amongst a host of other impressive feats, this pair’s ability to completely transform outfits in a mere blink of the eye had audience members eagerly awaiting what other surprises they had in store. Ryan obedience to Sharpay helps define her as the popular self-centered drama queen that Konzal plays so well. Troyer and his staunch facial expressions and eccentric hats had the audience laughing throughout.

As the play gets into its groove, Khari Brandes (’16) revealed himself as East High’s Public Announcer, a role that seemed characteristically designed for him given his humor and narrative voice. Often the announcer was responsible for introducing crises into the mix, such as when Troy’s championship basketball game, Gabriela’s science competition, and both of their Juliet and Romeo callbacks fatally fall on the same hour. The announcements humorously brought the story line together and kept the plot moving.

The man who brought the house down with his hysterical portrayal of Mr. Darbus was Rami Kablawi (’16). As he strutted down the aisle of audience members, gong in one hand, mallet in the other, I knew the possibilities in his character were endless. Yet even so, I still never quite knew what to expect from Kablawi’s character portrayal. Nonetheless, every time Mr. Darbus interacted with the audience or flailed his hands dramatically, he impressed me. Kablawi embraced and immersed himself into his character in a way that was truly entertaining to watch. His personality off the stage shined through his performance and he brought the character to life.

Kelsi Nielsen, played by Collette Campbell (’18), who is responsible for writing the version of Juliet and Romeo Mr. Darbus plans on producing as the play within the play, initially appeared to be a minor character, intimidated by the power of Sharpay. This was true until the triumph of Gabrielle and Troy inspires her to stand up for herself, causing a transformation into an individual that instills a sense of motivation. Campbell also flawlessly played the piano on stage to accompany the numbers performed by Wilson and Yearley.

Resembling a similar ambition to his fall production last year, A Light in Darkness,  Director Buck Herron crossed the line that divides cinematography and theater, creating  an interesting blend and arousing appreciation from all audience members.

At times, though, I found it difficult to compare this performance of High School Musical to previous performances such as A Light in Darkness and Ondine. Although the performance was entertaining, I think it calls into question if performances should serve a greater purpose than just entertaining.

The culminating scene of the performance saw impressive numbers from the Troyer-Konzal and Wilson-Yearly duos. As Gabriella  and Troy prevailed in the end, the entire cast rejoiced when Trey Carlson (’16), playing Coach Jack Bolton, gave his son Troy the approval and support he longed for as an artist.

The cast, which contained many underclassmen, pulled off a heartwarming performance that is guaranteed to make everyone laugh at some point. The “150 hours of work” as approximated by Yearly in the fall activities assembly, certainly resulted in an amusing performance.

Photo courtesy of Dani Swanson (’17)