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Three cheers for ‘Disney’s High School Musical’

The teen favorite plays light and sweet in Newhall at the Canyon Theatre Guild through Feb. 22

Posted: January 30, 2009 12:36 p.m.
Updated: January 30, 2009 1:05 p.m.

"Disney's High School Musical" plays at the Canyon Theatre Guild through Feb. 22. Whether you are already a fan of this story or not, the music and infectious energy of the youthful cast will make you smile.

I must admit, up front, that I have never seen the movie that spawned the play "Disney's High School Musical." My daughters loved it, but I always found a way of avoiding it.

I mean, I got enough of this stuff back in the day with Frankie and Annette.

Consequently, I wouldn't know a Troy from a Ryan or a Sharpay from a Gabriella. But that was before last Saturday night, when I caught this little slice of cream pie at the Canyon Theatre Guild.

Now I have a taste for it.

Director Barbara Huntington and assistant director Kamber Moen had pumped out the local teen-talent pools for the show. "Just about everyone who auditioned is doing something in the show," Moen said. "That's where future performers come from."

"The kids are all under 18 and most about 15," Huntington said.

For this opening night, there must have been half the teenage population of the SCV either on stage or in the audience. It was sort of life reflecting art and you couldn't help but get caught up in the fun.

"Sunday Feb. 15 we'll have a sing-along," Huntington added.

Well, by then, maybe I can sing along, too.

In "DHSM" the plot is merely a way to get teens on stage to sing. You don't have to take it seriously.

Jocks, brains and hardcore theater-folk struggle against each other and, in the end, come together to put on a great show.

And that plot played out in reality. CTG's version was the kind of show to send you home humming, with a smile on your face.

Though some performers had greater singing ability than others, you found yourself hearing sweet perfection in every note because you flat-out liked these kids.

With some 30 of them on stage at times, there were too many performers to mention. But, if you took time to watch those in the wings, you realized every one of them was fully in-character at all times and playing it to the best their part allowed.

Featured performers included John Steele as Troy Bolton, the basketball hero-turned-singer, and Julie Brannon as Gabriella Montez, the brain-turned-singer. Both had just the right energy and very good voices, and their featured duet together at the end was very touching ("Start of Something New").

Lindsay Saunders as Sharpay, the selfish, conniving drama queen, was just about perfect, and Tim Kendall played her co-conspirator and brother Ryan Evans nicely as well. His turn-around turns the story around.

You have to love Elana Monaco as Ms. Darbus, the drama teacher. She was just right in being over the top, and you feel you've seen her before. (Maybe that's because my high school drama teacher had red hair and glasses, as well, I don't know.)

Her counterpart (and future romantic partner?) was the basketball coach, Coach Bolton. Jim Robinson made him fun, even when he was supposed to be the "enemy."

Finally, I have to give a shout out to the skater dude-girl, because I sat next to her family and they made sure I took notice. She definitely gave her part "wheels."

Yeah, it was just that kind of experience - good music and light family fun, SCV-style. Try it. I'm sure your kids can sing along.



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