Reviewed by Tony Annicone
Footlights Juniors current show is Disney’s “High School Musical”, an adaptation of the Disney TV movie musical which was released on January 20, 2006. “High School Musical ” is a modern day adaptation of “Romeo and Juliet.” It is the story of two high school students: Troy Bolton, who is the captain of his high school’s basketball team, and Gabriella Montez, a shy transfer student who excels in math and science. Together they try out for the lead roles in their high school musical. Despite other students attempts to thwart their dreams, Troy and Gabriella resist and inspire others along the way. Directors Neil Jeronimo and Tricia Rodrigues cast 70 talented performers in this high energy musical.
Neil and Tricia’s blocking of this enormous musical is brilliant. Kasey Jeronimo, the musical director obtains strong vocals from this young cast, while Barry Pereira supplies some unique dance moves including basketball dance, some Fossesque moves and other breathtaking dance moves that astound the audience. The six piece orchestra sounds wonderful, too except a little bit too loud at times. The two leads do a topnotch job in their roles. Luke Sylvester plays Troy and dances up a storm in this role. Beautiful brunette, Maia Millard plays Gabriella and has a gorgeous voice. Their duets include “The Start of Something New”, “What I’ve Been Looking For”, “When There Was Me and You” and the joyous “Breaking Free” when they decide to tryout for the musical “Juliet and Romeo.” Luke and the basketball team sing “Get’cha Head in the Game” which is a Fosse style dance with basketballs in their hands. Maia has some topnotch comic scenes with the girls. She shines in this role.
The biggest scene stealers in this show are Jillian Levesque and Ed Plante who play the spoiled Evans twins, Sharpay and Ryan. Dressed in bright pink, Jillian displays her comedic talents as this bitchy girl who will do anything to get what she wants because she has always played the lead in every musical with her brother since they were in kindergarten. Eddie is hilarious as the prancing and fawning brother who will do anything and everything that his sister wants him to do. Jillian and Eddie’s antics are wonderful to behold and they display their voices in a rock version of the ballad “What I’ve Been Looking For” and also in “Bop to the Top” with the Brains and the Jocks.
Another scene stealer is Cathy Howard as the over the top drama teacher, Mrs. Darbus who hates cell phones. Her interactions with the students are laugh out loud moments as she cavorts around the stage in this comic role. Cathy’s facial expressions and quoting of Shakespeare are hilarious Troy’s father is well played by Brandt Swanson.
Troy and Gabriella’s best friends, Chad and Taylor are played by Matt Macy and Rachel Ochoa. They plot and scheme to keep them from trying out for the play but end up realizing they should help their dream come true. Matt and Rachel display their voices and dancing prowess in “Cellular Fusion” and “We’re All in this Together.” Playing the sympathetic playwright Kelsie is Samantha Moreira while Nick Lannigan plays Zeke, the lovesick guy who wants to be a baker and has a crush on Sharpay. When Kelsie finally stands up to Sharpay and when Zeke throws a pie in her face are laugh out loud moments. Nathaniel James LeBoeuf is phenomenal and a hoot as Jack Scott,, the guy who delivers messages over the PA system and displays his acting prowess in this role. The chorus shines in “Wildcat Cheer”, “Stick to the Status Quo” and “High School Megamix.” So for a musical treat for people of all ages, be sure to catch “High School Musical” at Footlights Junior Division.
HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL (27 to 29 July)
Footlights Junior Division, Morton Middle School, 1135 North Main St, Fall River, MA
1(774)526-9972 or www.footlightsrep.net