Cliques, geeks, and theater freaks clash in
High School Musical
's tale of two closeted singers learning to overcome high school stereotypes.
Originally aired as a Disney movie in 2006, this modern Romeo and Juliet has taken teen pop culture by storm. Basketball star Troy (Alec Rankin) and math whiz Gabriella (Claire Smith) discover their shared affection both for singing and for each other when they secretly try out for the school musical. They do not expect the chaos that ensues when the sectionalized student body discovers Troy and Gabriella's breach of the unbreakable "status quo."
Chestnut Hill Academy brought the new show to the stage recently with a level of spunk and energy that redeemed sometimes-strained singing.
Supporting actors captivated the audience. Natalie Smith, playing self-absorbed teen diva Sharpay, commanded attention with a strong singing voice and even stronger stage presence.
Her overshadowed brother Ryan (Andrew O'Neil) also revealed a belting boom box of a voice, one I would have liked to hear more. Nicki Sirianni's performance of authoritative detention dealer and theater fanatic Mrs. Darbus earned laughs.
Energetic cameos were a pleasure to watch, especially Mira Treatman's hilarious performance as hip-hop-crazed "nerd" Martha. Smooth-talking radio announcer Jack Scott (Conor O'Brien) moved the production along with subtly humorous narration. Also notable were the talented dance ensembles - cheerleaders, basketball players and thespians - who kept fingers rapping and feet tapping.
The skillful sound crew tackled a complicated system almost flawlessly, running everything from individual, hanging and stationary mikes to earpieces. Set changes sometimes dragged, but produced a realistic and multi-level depiction of high school life.
Chestnut Hill took on a new show with energy, producing an entertaining look at social laws, secret loves, and the song that unites them.