Disney's High School Musical 2
by Green Valley Performing Arts

It was “High School Musical 2 Day” in Henderson, Nevada. Officially, on the closing night of Green Valley High School’s production of the sequel to one of the most popular productions of recent years. The City of Henderson honored it with it’s own day, and representatives from Music Theatre International and Disney were on hand to see their latest creation in its final stages of completion. From here, they look at the handful of high schools who performed this work in progress, and create the final product that will be released this fall.

Jennifer Hemme, who also directed one of the pilot productions of the first High School Musical, directs this one as well. Performed at the high school this summer, she merged both current high school students and several alumni in casting the students of East High.

High School Musical 2, in case you’re one of the few who hasn’t seen the movie, takes place in the summer following the original show. The school’s basketball star Troy Bolton and super math freak Gabriella Montez, whose romance bloomed during the school year, are looking for summer jobs along with all their friends. Meanwhile, Sharpay Evans, the prima donna theatrical star of East High who got beat out by Gabriella for last year’s high school musical (and for Troy’s affection), is eager to steal Troy away. And she’s hoping to do it with a little help from her connections with the local country club where her father’s a bigwig, luring Troy with a summer job, chances for a basketball scholarship, and herself. But her devious plans hit an immediate bump when Troy convinces the country club to hire all his friends including Gabriella, meaning they’re all in it together for the summer.

Jordan Rakita stars as Troy, who finds himself struggling internally between following his dreams and being loyal to his friends (coming to a head in the song Bet On It). Jordan has a strong voice and good personality for the character. Carly Richardson fits Gabriella equally well, with lovely singing and a genuine niceness about her – an understanding nature even as she grows upset with Troy becoming more and more distant from her and from the person he once was. Molly Rosenberger is an amusingly brash, golf-challenged, self-centered Sharpay who puts in some extremely concerted efforts to remake Troy into someone as “fabulous” as herself.

With all the alumni Hemme brings to the game, you’d expect a deep cast, which it is. The talented Jonathan Sangster shines as Sharpay’s brother who comes into his own in the sequel. Riley McIlveen as Chad and Catie Shaw as Martha squeeze more humor out of their characters than usual, not to mention Timothy La (Zeke) as the guy with a never-ending supply of puns and cooking clichés who hilariously tries to use a baking tray to break up a fight, Ambree Klemm as Gabriella’s best friend Taylor McKessie, and Ariel Swainston as the now confident playwright Kelsi Nielsen who is putting together new songs including the hit You Are the Music in Me. Amanda Smith, Allyson Busch, and Daniel Efargan combine as Sharpay’s bubbly and ditzy entourage of Fabulous “Sharpettes.”

As for the show itself, it might be tough to recapture the stunning success of the original High School Musical, but fans of the first will probably enjoy this one as well. It’s got some good new songs, interspersed with more and more snippets of the old songs as this pilot version moves along toward its final version. No dancing with basketballs this time, but they get to do some Stomp-style stuff with kitchenware in Work This Out. The setting allows for the fun Humuhumunukunukuapua’a scene at the end of Act One, and Fabulous is a lark. And like it’s predecessor, it’s got a couple good duets for Troy and Gabriella like Every Day and You Are the Music in Me that includes an amusing new disco reprise. Bet On It coming soon to a theatre near you! Perhaps followed soon by High School Musical 3?

Performs July 24 - August 2, 2008.

Rob Hopper
National Youth Theatre

~ Cast ~
Troy Bolton: Jordan Rakita
Chad Danforth: Riley McIlveen
Zeke Baylor: Timothy La
Jack Scott: David Edelblute
Gabriella Montez: Carly Richardson
Taylor McKessie: Ambree Klemm
Martha Cox: Catie Shaw
Kelsi Nielsen: Ariel Swainston
Sharpay Evans: Molly Rosenberger
Ryan Evans: Jonathan Sangster
Blossom: Amanda Smith
Violet: Allyson Busch
Peaches: Daniel Efargan
Fulton: Ron Klemm
Ripper: Brandon Luce

Tyler Baldwin
Anthony Bell
Allyson Busch
Daniel Button
Ronnie Chwasz
Coree Davis
Gina Taylor Dodge
Daniel Efargan
Natalie Elder
Katie Jones
Ambree Klemm
Timothy La
Diamond Landrum
Brandon Luce
Connor McIlveen
Riley McIlveen
Paula Napalan
Ashley Neiswender
Brooke Nemeth
Jordan Rakita
Marina Rankow
Carly Richardson
Armando Ronconi
Jonathan Sangster
Catie Shaw
Michael Shaw
Amanda Smith
Megan Smith
Ariel Swainston
Sarah Teferi
Lauren Tovar
Jacent Wamala

Lava Springs Pool Staff:
Ronnie Chwasz
Coree Davis
Brooke Nemeth
Armando Ronconi
Megan Smith
Jacent Wamala

Dermatologist: Brooke Nemeth
Tailor: Armando Ronconi
Hairdresser: Ronnie Chwasz
Valet: Coree Davis
Rowena Waggenheim: Diamond Landrum
Billy Flatley: Daniel Button
Rosette Shimshank: Brooke Nemeth
Theresa Templeton: Natalie Elder, Katie Jones, Ashley Neiswender

Director: Jennifer Hemme
Music Director: Kim Drusedum
Choreographer: Jared Hunt
Stage Manager: Marina Chairez
Technical Director: Jeff Tidwell


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