Saturday, December 17, 2011

Last Chance To Take In Middle School Production of High School Musical

If you want to experience some warm, fuzzy feelings about our community’s support for the performing arts in our schools, come see the middle school’s performance of Disney’s High School Musical tonight or tomorrow at the SLV High Performing Arts Center. ( Saturday 12/16 at 7 p.m.; Sunday matinee at 2 p.m.) The show closes Sunday, so this is the last chance to enjoy it.

The theme of High School Musical is positive and family-friendly; it’s about being true to oneself despite pressures and stereotypes of cliques in school. The energy of the kids performing is fantastic, and I think the relevance of the theme added to their enthusiasm, making it easy for them to act their parts.

I saw two performances opening weekend, and the first thing that impressed me was the number of kids on stage and the energy of their combined performances. More than 40 students perform, and I was impressed by the animation these middle schoolers brought to their roles, the quality of much of the singing, and the comic flair of many actors.
The choreography channeled the actors’ energy perfectly, and there’s a particularly fun scene called Getcha Head in the Game, in which the basketball team ends by singing and dancing up the center aisle, drawing all eyes with them. There is also a funny pie-in-the-face moment that delighted young audience members sitting in the front of the theater.

The show is the most fast-paced school performance I’ve watched, moving from one musical scene to the next so swiftly that when it was time for intermission I was caught by surprise – no checking the program to see “how much longer” with this show.

But the strongest feeling I came away with was gratitude for living in a community where our kids get to participate in a production of this quality as part of their public school education. The set includes a high-tech feature that allows a computer to project scenes onto the background behind the students. There are other professional touches like body mikes for the lead roles, and the kids were given weeks of professional choreography and vocal coaching. The drama teacher, Will Guilford, put in countless hours outside of school to coordinate and direct the musical, and he said that SLV Middle School is one of the last middle schools in the county to still offer kids the chance to participate in musical theater on this level. Some of the costs were borne by parent donations and generous support from area businesses, but box office sales help make it possible as well.

The cast for High School Musical is double- and quadruple-cast for many of the roles to give most students a chunk of time in the spotlight. With each cast the audience will experience a slightly different performance, but I enjoyed both of the casts I saw, and I’m confident anyone else will have the same experience.

Tickets are available only at the box office, which opens half an hour before the performance. No advance sales. General admission: $13, Seniors $10, Students $8.

Review Contributed by "proud parent" Joni Martin
Joni's daughter April plays Taylor in Sunday’s show, she promises this review is free of proud-parent bias.

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