Bethan Shuff || Leah Hamer || August 19th
Eleven years ago, on one Friday afternoon in September, children ran home from school to make sure they were home in time for the Disney Channel premiere of the one and only High School Musical.
On Thursday evening, those same children, now in their late teens and twenties, alongside even younger children who fell in love with the movie, gathered at The Regent Theatre for an amateur production of the movie by local young actors and actresses of The Regent Academy of Performing Arts.
It was clear right from the opening number the passion, energy and love for drama the young performers had. With each dance choreographed and executed tightly and energetically, every song sung professionally with strong stage presence.
If you haven’t seen the story, it’s a little bit Grease-esque. Troy and Gabriella meet on a ski trip, Gabriella ends up moving to East High, discovering it’s Troy’s school and they fall in love. Both of them want to break free of the social constraints of their cliques, the basketball team and the brainiacs, however young love, diva drama and jealousy all become obstacles in their path as everyone believes you should stick to the status quo.
The musical greeted us with nostalgia, it was just like watching the film, practically word for word – meaning that all of us that have watched it a million and one times were able to release our inner sassy Sharpay and act along.
For young performers, the lead roles were incredibly professional, Emilia Braddon playing Sharpay’s role brilliantly, with the perfect balance of spoilt, jealous and comical. Ryan played by Liam Tiesteel was phenomenally sharp, strong and smooth in both his dancing and acting. Between Troy (Isaac Radcliffe) and Gabriella (Raina Proctor) there was an air of nervousness, most likely due to it being the opening night, however this worked in favour of the couple as teenagers tend to be a little awkward. Liam’s vocals were confident and mature, beautifully complimented by Raina’s light, and haunting voice. Together, the couple give you goosebumps.
The second half continued to make us laugh and sing- with the clever script references to later songs and plot lines, hilarious one-liners like, 'Excuse me, Jeremy Kyle!', and the refreshing mix-up of song orders. One of the most impressive elements of the young actors' skill sets, was their complete ease and professionalism during a technical difficulty, that meant the show was paused briefly. The youngsters improvised and carried on, as though they had been in showbiz all their lives.
As the finale dawned, Liam and Raina poured their lungs out to Breaking Free, as the rest of the cast filled onto the stage for the power-anthem, All In This Together. The lead actors and chorus twirled and jived in harmony, giving everyone a well deserved taste of the spotlight.
High School Musical is embedded in the hearts of so many young adults today and the team at The Regent Academy of Performing Arts gave it a new lease of life, making us all feel completely and utterly FABULOUS.
The final performance takes place this evening at The Regent Theatre.