Stay Tuned
Reviews, previews and much more on "The Real Housewives," "How I Met Your Mother," "NCIS" and many more of your favorite shows. This is the place to talk about all of the things that make us "Stay Tuned"…

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

"High School Musical On Stage": We Are Truly All in This Together

You guys know that I am quite the “High School Musical’ fanatic. So it shouldn’t be any surprise that I was in the front row for last Friday’s performance by the First Stage Theatre Company.

However, I should point out before I go on that the front row was not the best place to sit since we were sitting right behind the band—who was outstanding, by the way—and there were many times I lost the words in the music. Fortunately for me, I knew most of them…

Interestingly, sitting two rows behind me was one of my co-stars from my high school senior play. But our production didn’t come anywhere close to the scope of what this group of area students put together, When I looked at the packed Keith-Albee Theatre, I have to say I was a little jealous.

Kudos, congratulations, pats on the back and whatever else you can think of should be heaped on all of the people involved with the “HSM” production. I know this couldn’t have been the easiest show to put on, and the necessary dedication and hard work was totally evident in every element of the show…

Now if you guys have read any of my “HSM” posts, you know that for me, “HSM” is all about Ryan and Sharpay. And this production had two excellent ones in Jordan Sager and Josh Meredith. I was a little put off at first that Sharpay was written a little meaner for the stage, but the meaner she got, the funnier it was. Plus, her extra meanness made her comeuppance all the more sweet. Of course, it was especially sweet for me since it came at the hands of Ryan, who in this version, turned on his sister. If I hadn’t have been in the front row, I would’ve yelled out, “Yes!” as I did when Ryan turned on Sharpay in “HSM 2.”

What can I say? I love Ryan…

But don’t let my enthusiasm for Ryan and Sharpay make you think I wasn’t impressed with Troy and Gabriella, because that is certainly not the case. Elliott Inlay and Angela Pino were adorable, and had great chemistry that they were not afraid to show. Yes, my friends, this Troy and Gabriella kissed—and boy did they ever! They might’ve even heard me say, “Whoa!” because it came out a little louder than I meant it too (Cut me some slack. I was surprised.). But since this stage version spent a lot more time developing them as a couple, it was totally appropriate.

And special props to Inlay for tackling those songs. Now I know why Disney had to dub over Zac Efron’s voice. Holy cow, those songs are high!

Several of the other plot differences were necessary simply because of stage limitations. In fact, I was really wondering what changes were going to be made to the movie’s climax with the callbacks, decathlon and game going on at the same time. But the sequence was staged beautifully with all three events sharing the stage—kind of like a “24” splitscreen for the theater. And as much as I love Ryan and Sharpay, I have to admit that I spent most of my time watching Bill Bartlett (Coach Bolton) coach “the game.” You almost thought there was a game going on up there somewhere that we couldn’t see. And the staging of Troy’s last second game-winning shot? Genius. LOVED the slo-mo.

There were also changes that nicely filled in some plot holes. For example, we learned that the musicale was “Juliet and Romeo” (which totally freaks me out about Ryan and Sharpay starring in it). And the stage version fixed one of my least favorite parts of the original—Sharpay’s transformation to Gabriella’s new best friend. In this version, Sharpay begrudgingly congratulates her at Ryan’s urging—which makes a lot more sense.

As we left the theater, it was hard not to feel all of the energy from the departing audience. You could see it as well on the faces of the kids waiting in line for autographs from the show’s stars. I couldn’t help but think that maybe I should have waited in line as well because I have a feeling we’re going to see big things from these young people in the future.

Again, congratulations to everyone, including those involved with the Keith Albee. There was really no other place to stage the production, so I am really glad it was able to happen.

In fact, Friday night was a beautiful example that as a community, we are truly all in this together…