Disney's High School Musical
by Young Star Musical Theatre

It’s some wild times at East High when auditions for the next high school musical turn the school’s traditional cliques on their heads. The cause of all the commotion is the romance between basketball star Troy Bolton and newcomer to East High, math whiz Gabriella Montez. Troy’s jock friends and Gabriella’s new brainiac friends are baffled by this cross-clique relationship, and they add what peer pressure they can to separate them and put the school back in order. And you don’t even want to know what the school’s brother-and-sister stage stars, Sharpay and Ryan, think about all this.

Disney’s popular movie, and now maybe even more popular stage production, has begun hitting youth stages throughout the country. And it has a line of fans wrapping around the block of the Elks Theatre in Prescott, Arizona waiting to get in, forcing an extended run of the show for Young Star Musical Theatre. And the line-up of theatergoers is in for a pretty good treat as the always-creative director Shmaine Posey and her cast take this cheesy but fun musical and make it even more fun and cheesier to good effect.

In one welcome touch, they begin the show as the film does with the first meeting of Troy and Gabriella at a ski lodge where they get suckered into doing a karaoke duet (the stage version calls for a flashback scene). Ensemble members and about a dozen or more excited audience volunteers kick it all off with a big New Year’s bash, providing party energy to the otherwise lulling Start of Something New song.

Caleb Chunglo is an unassuming, confident-but-not-arrogant Troy. All the other lead roles are double-cast, with Mallory Morganelli and Kristy Ann Wilson sharing the role of Gabriella. Mallory enjoys some fine duets with Caleb and her solo When There Was Me and You, as does Kristy who somehow manages to give good depth and refreshingly genuine personality to a pretty thinly written character.

The supporting cast is led by the outrageous Evans twins who line their clothes and their microphones with sparkly bling-bling. Sharpay even has her locker decked out with a star and pink paint (and a prominent mirror). A talented foursome takes on the roles, divided between the two casts. Charlotte Shipley is a riot with the voice, dance moves, and a creative, self-centered prima donna-ness that never misses a beat, with Alex Benavidez as her worshipping shadow of a twin brother. Heather Hancock and Nolan Sturdevant team up terrifically for the other Sharpay and Ryan, with Heather as an ultra-determined, humorously seductive Sharpay and Nolan as her dynamic and “fabulous” brother. All four nail their songs, beginning with their crazy warm-up techniques.

Marney Henze is a charming Taylor, Gabriella’s best friend, who reacts to her own conniving against Gabriella’s romance with palpable regret, while Taylor-Two Carly Jonovich is a standout with her remarkable sense of humor that includes a singular demonstration of “cheerleader talk.” Her mother is one of the two adult actors, with Colleen Jonovich as the school’s amusingly scary, melodramatic theatre director and Scott Reed as Troy’s father, the basketball coach with his head stuck exclusively in the game. The latter doesn’t quite know what to say when he walks in on the drama teacher’s detention period and discovers one of his players wearing a costume dress. As he orders them out to the basketball courts, he has to remind the cross-dresser to leave the dress, which immediately comes flying back to the coach from offstage.

Other standouts include Lizzie Place as a shy, humble, awkward playwright who is reluctant to look anyone in the eye, Jacob Clark as a jock who is immensely proud (and a little sensitive) about his baking skills, and Jake Jackson as basketball friend Chad Danforth and as a key part of a couple of the show’s ensemble highlights. Of which there were many. A good “auditions” scene featuring an interpretive dance routine that the drama teacher finds “very disturbing” and Jake Jackson as a ballerina who exits the stage by sliding across the piano on his back (much to the horror of Lizzie Place on the piano bench). Then there is the Mission Impossible music as the characters meet secretly to scheme a complicated plan to break up Troy and Gabriella. And, best of all, the hysterical slow-motion basketball game/brawl for the championship featuring great expressions and body language (including some Matrix-like moves) by the players and their rabid fans.

The cast also put on some good song-and-dance numbers including the basketball players’ Keep Your Head in the Game (very lively and in-step despite the fact that most of the actors really were jocks and had never danced before), all the frustrated classmates trying to force everyone to Stick to the Status Quo (with Carly Jonovich’s choreography capturing that frustration), and the big closing number We’re All in This Together that is sung and danced with precision and energy.

Oh, and if you time your dinner right in between the matinee and evening performances, you may just be lucky enough to get a free encore performance by the show’s fun and not-very-shy cast getting their between-shows nourishment at nearby Kendall’s Famous Burgers & Ice.

Performs April 5-21, 2007

Rob Hopper
National Youth Theatre

~ Cast ~
Thursday Cast

~ Thursday ~
Troy Bolton: Caleb Chunglo
Gabriella Montez: Kristy Ann Wilson
Sharpay Evans: Heather Hancock
Ryan Evans: Nolan Sturdevant
Chad Danforth: Jake Jackson
Taylor Mckessie: Carly Jonovich
Kelsi Neilson: Lizzie Place
Zeke Baylor: Jacob Clark
Martha Cox: Nicole St. Germain
Skater Dude: Alex Benavidez
Ms. Darbus: Colleen Jonovich
Coach Bolton: Scott Reed
Ensemble: Audrey Barbe
Pom Pom Girl: Tiffany Beuchat
Ensemble: Lexi Bourdon
Ensemble: Courtine Brewer
Pom Pom Girl: Nikki Buckingham
Ensemble: Mason Burchfield
Pom Pom Girl: Madison Burnett
Skater Dude: Cory Chatham
Ensemble: Michael Ciraulo
Pom Pom Girl: Macy Cool
Ensemble: Maddie Coyne
Ensemble: Jordan Davidson
Ensemble: Riley Davidson
Pom Pom Girl: Gianna Day
Soloist: Brianne DeMenna
Head Cheerleader: Krista Evers
Pom Pom Girl: Taylor Fonseca
Cheerleader: Grace Fullmer
Pom Pom Girl: Hattie Grace
Pom Pom Girl: Lexi Ham
Ensemble: Taylor Higgins
Pom Pom Girl: Madison Kec
Ensemble: Hannah Kelly
Pom Pom Girl: Abby Kirschbaum
Ensemble: Kayla Kite
Ensemble: Maddie Kloss
Cheerleader: Kaileigh Koons
Pom Pom Girl: Alexa Kramer
Ensemble: Chelsea Linston
Ensemble: Lindsay Nagle
Ensemble: Chelsie Nagle
Pom Pom Girl: Nancy Olney
Pom Pom Girl: Kayla Parsons
Pom Pom Girl: Bailee Petrovsky
Cheerleader: Ashley Place
Ensemble: Kaitlyn Ramsey
Ensemble: Billy Reed
Ensemble: Taylor Roos
Cheerleader: Carly Scissons
Head Cheerleader: Sarah Scott
Ensemble: Lexy Shepherd
Cheerleader: Emily St. Germain
Soloist: Nicole St. Germain
Ensemble: Anastacia Sullivan
Pom Pom Girl: Rachel Szkley
Ensemble: Nicky Thompson
Pom Pom Girl: Becca Tischina
Pom Pom Girl: Anika Utke
Cheerleader: Rebecca Utts
Ensemble: William Utts
Ensemble: Savannah Utts
Ensemble: Caroline Van Dine
Pom Pom Girl: Tiffany Whittmore
Cheerleader: Shelby Williams

~ Friday ~
Troy Bolton: Caleb Chunglo
Gabriella Montez: Mallory Morganelli
Sharpay Evans: Charlotte Shipley
Ryan Evans: Alex Benavidez
Chad Danforth: Tommy Utts
Taylor Mckessie: Marney Henze
Kelsi Neilson: Kelsey Diefendorf
Zeke Baylor: Cory Chatham
Martha Cox: Brianne DeMenna
Skater Dude: Nolan Sturdevant
Ms. Darbus: Colleen Jonovich
Coach Bolton: Scott Reed
Cheerleader: Jessica Adams
Cheerleader: Sami Austin
Pom Pom Girl: Tiffany Beauchat
Ensemble: Lexi Bourdon
Pom Pom Girl: Mikayla Bradshaw
Basketball Player: Mason Burchfield
Basketball Player: Michael Ciraulo
Basketball Player: Jacob Clark
Pom Pom Girl: Odessa Clugston
Pom Pom Girl: Dempsey Dandos
Cheerleader: Ciara DeCastro
Pom Pom Girl: Diamond Galbraith
Pom Pom Girl: Lexi Ham
Ensemble: Heather Hancock
Ensemble: Taylor Higgins
Basketball Player: Jake Jackson
Cheerleader: Carly Jonovich
Pom Pom Girl: Madison Kec
Pom Pom Girl: Paige Kec
Pom Pom Girl: Abby Kirschbaum
Ensemble: Kayla Kite
Cheerleader: Emily Lawhead
Cheerleader: Lizzie Marolf
Pom Pom Girl: Lexie Mitchell
Pom Pom Girl: Jamie Nichols
Pom Pom Girl: Tylar Nichols
Cheerleader: Kodi Norton
Cheerleader: Ashley Place
Ensemble: Lizzie Place
Ensemble: Kaylee Pobocik
Ensemble: Kaitlyn Ramsey
Basketball Player: Billy Reed
Cheerleader: Brittany Reed
Ensemble: Audrey Roberts
Ensemble: Carly Rotolo
Cheerleader: Karen Schuenman
Ensemble: Lexy Shepherd
Ensemble: Keri Skjei
Pom Pom Girl: Kennedi Todd
Pom Pom Girl: Chelsea Torres
Basketball Player: Billy Utts
Ensemble: Savannah Utts
Pom Pom Girl: Annabelle Veatch
Pom Pom Girl: Hailey Viterboe
Pom Pom Girl: Megan Viterboe
Pom Pom Girl: Caroline Ward
Pom Pom Girl: Shana West

Director & Choreographer: Shmaine Posey
Music Director: Debbie Place
Stage Manager: Kim Auer
Set Designer: Steve Posey
Set Artist: Pam Shipley 
Julie Bradshaw


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