It’s a new year, it’s a new decade, and the still very new Alhambra Theatre opened 2010 with the North Florida premiere of Disney’s HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL. Originally, High School Musical was a made-for-TV movie that aired on the Disney Channel and became a big hit, followed by the fastest-selling DVD of all time (1.2 million copies were sold in its first six days). The stage version debuted in Chicago in 2007 with a fantastic opening that included Michelle Obama and her kids in the audience.
From everything I have read, those who have seen the movie and the stage musical all agree that the musical as being presented now at the Alhambra is the better of the two, being more polished, with the characters more interesting and more fully developed.
The action begins with a chance boy-meets-girl meeting at a karaoke contest. Troy Bolton (Tyler Ruebensaal in his Alhambra debut), is a star basketball player, Gabriella Montez (Rosie Mattia, also an Alhambra first timer), is an intellectual math geek. They wind up auditioning later for the leads in Juliet and Romeo, a student- composed musical.
Of course there must be some conflict, and this is provided by Sharpay, the sexy blonde president of the drama club who feels she should have the part. As played by Katie Donohue, this mean-spirited girl is a lot of fun, and Ms. Donohue certainly shows off the talent that earned her a role in HAIRSPRAY on Broadway. Sharpay’s plan to disrupt the auditions is aided by her brother Ryan, played by Jeremy Dumont. You may remember him from the Alhambra production of SINGING IN THE RAIN, because as Cosmo, he literally stole that show with his fabulous dancing.
I appreciate Director Tod Booth Sr. bringing in exceptionally talented performers from all over the country. I especially appreciate the Alhambra also showcasing some of our excellent local performers.