Wild cats everywhere!Gaia Faye

This theatre production of High School Musical on Stage - an adaptation of that famous musical film which captured the heart of a particular generation - came across as just that: a high school musical. It comprises of a heady mixture of cringey lines, extravagant dance numbers and well-loved songs which were not always perfectly delivered but made for considerable amusement. It might not have been totally slick, but seemed to be a hit with spectators (particularly those who knew the film and could sing along wildly) judging from the sheer volume of audible reactions.

The cast pretty accurately capture that classic high school awkwardness and cheesiness of social interactions. Sharpay (Laura Saunders) and Ryan (Oscar Kong) certainly deliver stand-out performances, with an abundance of sass, fantastic glittery outfits and a particularly engaging rendition of ‘Bop to the Top’. I’d perhaps even go so far as to argue that they are more deserving of the lead roles in ‘Juliet and Romeo’, that drama-inducing play-within-a-play, than our beloved protagonists Troy and Gabriella (Jonathan Iceton and Jai Shende). Their budding romance wasn’t quite convincing, although I’d imagine this is difficult considering the condensing of the original story.

"There was also some good and surprisingly well coordinated basketball action."

Mrs Darbus is also played with great flair by Claudia Bisutti (think: Professor Trelawney). The songs involving the whole cast are generally well-choreographed, with the iconic ‘Stick to the Status Quo’ showcasing the talents of various individuals as they deliver those famous snippets about creme brulees and hip-hop. There was also some good and surprisingly well coordinated basketball action.

There is clearly a talented band backstage and the final medley of pretty much all the songs that feature in the whole production is impressive, despite transitions between songs not being completely fluid. The set is relatively minimal but covers all the most important bases - the leafy trellis and raised walkway for the rooftop garden scene is a nice touch. The most innovative element of the show is the phone-shaped screen which descends from the ceiling at particular intervals to display comical fragments of pre-recorded instagram stories. Its undeniable success was measured by the laughs which began to accompany the lowering of the screen before the videos even started.


Mountain View

My first experience of Cambridge theatre leaves me shaking

I can’t quite believe I’m saying this, but the show could do with even more exaggeration: you can’t afford to let even a hint of self-consciousness or lethargy shine through with a production like this, otherwise the energy is lost and the audience are left unconvinced. The film is ridiculously excessive as it is, but the theatre production benefits from even more extremity in order to carry off a successful performance. The size of the smiles on the faces of the dancers didn’t quite match the enthusiasm of the responsive audience. The spectators are there for some late-night cheesy entertainment and the cast should take any opportunity to milk this for all it’s worth: to quote Sharpay from the follow-up film, I need fabulous, I need more!

This production didn’t quite soar or fly, but it went some of the way towards taking off. It is certainly satisfyingly silly sing-along entertainment for an evening, should you desire it.

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