As a vehicle for showcasing vocal talent, High School Musical is hard to beat so we had some high expectations this week, knowing the quality of singing that is produced at Queen’s.
And from the minute it began we knew we were not going to be disappointed. The opening scenes had soaring vocals, a range of tones, blending harmonies and strong characterisation – an excellent start which was a real indication of what was to come.
Thankfully the Drama Department knows its pupils very well; the casting was perfect, with excellent performances from the lead performers. Zara Arshad-Roberts as Ms Darbus was the linchpin to much of the first act and her dramatic credentials were clear for all the see. She played the role with a large dose of humour and real maturity. The two leads, played by Darcie Cochrane and Olivia Atkinson, are tricky roles to take on, but both girls pulled off great performances; they were more than convincing as the torn teenage lovers, sounding beautiful both in their solos and together as they took on the show’s iconic duets.
As a counterpoint to Troy and Gabriella the show provided us with Bea Delafaille and Meg Rofe playing Ryan and Sharpay… and bagging a lot of laughs along the way! From their saccharine sweet audition song to their purple salsa moves, you could see how much these girls enjoyed taking on these roles! Lily Spillane did an excellent job playing the bumbling Zeke trying to win Sharpay’s affections as did Olivia Jones as the Jock Chad and Sophie Garnell as Troy’s dad Coach Bolton. Thea Watts was also fabulous as Taylor, Morgan Allan as Martha and Olivia Polding as Kratnoff.
Showcasing some excellent piano playing, Annie Whyte playing the nervous, creative Kelsi with an understated sweetness that made you root for her character and her eventual pairing with Jack (Emily Reed) was a lovely pay-off at the end of the show. A special mention must go to Emily who choreographed the whole show – and there were a lot of complicated dance routines in those two hours!
It was lovely to see so many girls on stage and all their talents being used well. In the auditions scenes all the girls performed with confidence and ability – and the audience was treated to everything from Grace Dixon’s exceptional vocals to Bella Band’s physical comedy skills. It is often easy to overlook the band when the vocalist is in the spotlight but the girls in the band sounded absolutely wonderful and deserve huge credit for all the work they have put in to make everything sound so professional.
Last but not least we must mention all the girls that worked on the sound, lighting and behind the scenes and filled the stage with High School Musical cheer – from cheerleaders and basketball players, actors and skater-dudes, teachers and brainiacs –they all played their part in giving the evening that High School Musical vibe – as the show says, we’re all in this together!