Theatre Mirror Reviews - "High School Musical 2"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2009 by Tony Annicone

"High School Musical 2"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The LaSalle Players last show of the season is Disney's "High School Musical 2", an adaptation of the Disney TV movie musical which was released on August 17, 2007. In the second show of the series, student, Troy Bolton stresses over getting a job, with the price of college expenses looming on his mind as well as trying to make sure he and Gabriella Montez are able to stay together all summer. Director Thomas Haynes does a great job of creating a country club atmosphere in the theatre while the musical director, Michael Moise taught all the intricate harmonies for the musical numbers. Choreographer Ann Morsilli creates topnotch dances with the cast moving in perfect unison to dances like such as hip hop, Charleston, jazz, rock and roll, the swim and the hula. They infuse the show with high energy from start to finish to deliver a fantastic song and dance musical the whole family can enjoy.

While the script isn't strong on a plotline, these high school students do a phenomenal job with this show. In case most readers aren't familiar with the storyline:at East High the final bell rings after Ms. Darbus played by Regina Lutskiy gives a final lecture to the students, signaling the beginning of summer vacation. The students converge in a song, "What Time Is It?" and sing and dance up a storm during it. As a symbol of his feelings for her, Troy Bolton gives Gabriella Montez a necklace with his initial "T" on it. The Wildcats sing one last chorus of the song outside of school before summer break. Sharpay and Ryan plan to spend the summer at their family's country club, Lava Springs. She returns to her evil ways and cruelly breaks up with Zeke, but Sharpay still has her claws out for Troy whom she has arranged to be hired at the club. However, Troy convinces the club's manager, Mr. Fulton into hiring Gabriella and their close group of friends as well. Sharpay is enraged on learning this and urges Fulton to give them difficult tasks so they'd opt to quit. Troy rebuilds their confidence in "Work It Out" and convinces them that they can persevere while he worries about funding for college. Sharpay senses his need and arranges for Troy to be promoted to a golf pro, hoping this will convince him to sing with her at the talent show. Meanwhile Kelsi has written a ballad "You are the Music in Me" for Troy and Gabriella, while Troy agrees to sing it with her not realizing that Sharpay is vying for his attention. She and Ryan trap Troy as he prepares for a date with Gabriella. The visit from a local college basketball team, The Red Hawks, causes a rift between Troy and his best friend, Chad when Troy chooses the Evans companionship instead of his friends'. Ryan realizes that he doesn't mean much to Sharpay anymore, as she is ready to cast her brother aside to sing with Troy and replace him in the Hawaiian. Taylor and Gabriella invite Ryan to the baseball game and Chad offers him Troy's position. Troy and Gabriella's relationship is strained when Troy sees Ryan with Gabriella, sparking jealousy. Owing to a "promise" from Troy, he and Sharpay practice their song for the Midsummer's Night Talent Show. When she finds out Ryan and the Wildcats are putting together their own performance in the show, she orders Fulton to ban all junior staff members from performing. When Gabriella finds out she quits her job, Troy overhears and tries to get her to change her mind but Gabriella expresses her loss of trust with Troy in the poignant song, "Gotta Go My Own Way. He refuses to sing with Sharpay causing he to burst into tears and returns to work to reconcile with Chad and the gang. Sharpay comforts herself by eating Zeke's chocolate chip cookies, realizing she should get back together with him. She gives Troy a new song to learn moments before the show. She calls someone on Troy's cellphone. As Troy goes onstage singing "Every Day" alone until Gabriella surprisingly joins him onstage. In the end Sharpay reforms her ways promising to be friends with Gabriella and proudly presents her brother with the award for the talent show. After the show the gang sings and dances to the finale while Troy and Gabriella share their first kiss.

The cast is lead by senior Daniel Tracy, who will be majoring in theatre at the University of Michigan next year, is excellent as Troy Bolton. He captures the essence of the character as well as having incredible dancing prowess in all his numbers. Daniel possesses a fantastic tenor voice which he uses in"Work This Out" where he convinces the gang to stick to their jobs, "Picnic" where he tries to kiss Gabriella. and "Bet on It", an angry type song where Troy questions his motivations. His funniest moment comes when he fights off Sharpay's advances on him during You are the Music in Me". Troy sums up teen angst wonderfully when he says" He always liked the idea of being in charge of my future until it actually started happening. (Dan has an excellent future in the theatre after having reviewed him in "Thoroughly Modern Millie" last December and "Lovers' Quarrels" this March which showed he can play a variety of roles.) He and Alison Russo have wonderful chemistry as the romantic couple, having played across from each other in both Millie and "Lovers' Quarrels". Beautiful brunette, Alison, a junior plays Gabriella and has a fantastic voice which she uses in "Picnic", "Every Day" and "Gotta Go My Own Way", a dynamic show stopping number. Gabriella warns Troy not to fall victim to the dangers of upward mobility. Instead of jocks versus art and math geeks, this time it is the haves vs. the have nots. Playing the scene stealing Evans twins are Tiia Groden and Sean Walsh as Sharpay and Ryan. She has a show stopping song called "Fabulous" which is done three times in the show and one of the lines contains a line about Cole Porter:"Towels imported from Turkey/Turkey imported from Maine." She is dressed in bright pink and her posse, backup singers and dancers wear bright colors, too. (Julia Harvey, Katrina Pavao and Hannah MacDonald) Beautiful blonde Tiia was also dynamite as Millie and in this show she gets to go back and forth from being a mean vain rich girl to caring sister and friend. She has a gorgeous voice . Sean is a hoot as Ryan, making his flamboyant gestures perfectly. His standout number is "I Don't Dance" where he and the gang does something exciting and brand new with that familiar title. They mime playing a baseball game hilariously. Sean plays bulldozed younger brother, Ryan, acts, dances and sings with real feeling adding a welcome poignancy to the show after being rejected by Sharpay. (He and Tiia played across from each other in Millie as love interests.) Colin Whitney is a hoot as Mr. Fulton, the pompous club manager who is bullied and bossed around by the spoiled Sharpay who finally tells her off at the end of the show. (Colin is only a freshman but always seems to play older characters in most of the shows. Troy's best friend Chad is well played by Christopher Lee who makes his debut in this show, his girlfriend, Taylor is well played by Gabi Whitney while Kelsi, the musician and her announcer boyfriend, Jack Scott are played by Santana Roberts and Matthew Smith. John Smith is the long suffering rejected boyfriend, Zeke while Elizabeth Radwan is Martha who does Albuquerque's version of street talk. Some of the standout dancers include Matthew Kilduff, Luke Doyle, Vincent Lee and Devin Carreiro.The infectious tunes are numerous with standouts including "You Are the Music in Me," "All for One" and "Fabulous" transformation. So for an exciting musical with an outstanding cast, be sure to catch "High School Musical 2" which is rewarded with a spontaneous standing ovation at the end of the show.

"High School Musical 2" (6 - 17 May)
LASALLE PLAYERS
612 Academy Avenue, PROVIDENCE RI
1 (401)351-7750 Ext. 183

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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