Musikmakers' production of Disney's High School Musical, opening night, Riverlea Theatre. Reviewed by Geoff Lewis Deluged with young talent during auditions, show management selected a young and vibrant cast, many of whom could already call on experience in both school and amateur productions.
High School Musical is a cleaned-up and modernised version of the classic 70s musical Grease. Set in the mythical East High School in Albuquerque, New Mexico, it is typically American — loud, brash and flashy.
But underneath are the common struggles of teenagers trying hard to be grownups.
Centre is the relationship between newby student Gabriella Montez, played by Hayley Monaghan and the coach's son Troy Bolton, played by Zac Clarke.
Stand-outs include the attention-seeking Sharpay Evans (Mimi Boister), her hen-pecked companion Ryan Evans (Jonathan Hawthorn), on-stage pianist and composer Kelsi Neilson (Bride Case-Miller) and school radio jock Jack Scott (Jack Turner).
The cast is bolstered by veteran stage performers including Leona Lenora Robinson as the affected drama teacher Ms Darbus and Scott Chaplow as the single-minded school B-ball coach Bolton.
High School Musical is packed with rousing musical numbers from poignant solos and duets to thumping gang-show choral numbers. Musical director Coryn Knapper and choreographer Abby Dutton focused a tonne of youthful energy into Riverlea's limited stage, finishing the evening with a stomping high-pressure version of We're All in This Together followed by a megamix recap of all the major songs in the show.