Disney's High School Musical
Playhouse, Edinburgh, until Sat 1 Mar
If the cast-iron chastity, remarkable level of racial harmony and general abstemiousness of the teenagers represented in this stage version of the hit Disney Channel film don’t seem to ring true of the ASBO generation in our country, or the gun-toting kids of America, there’s a vague saccharine charm to High School Musical which manages to carry it along.
If you haven’t seen the film, David Simpatico’s version of Peter Barsocchini’s script – a little altered here for the stage with an extra character and a couple of new songs – might seem familiar in any case, for its plotline bears some resemblance to that of Grease. In it, we meet school basketball hero Troy (Ashley Day) who finds himself face to face with a past – and overpoweringly innocent – romance in Gabriella (Lorna Want), a mathematical genius who shares an unexpected gift for song, dance and acting with her former paramour. Meanwhile, they’re subjected to peer pressure from their respective friends to conform to their disparate social groups, while the jealous drama club president attempts to oust them from the school play, a PC version of Romeo and Juliet.
There are some slightly alarming ideological signals about mistrust of intellectuals and the need for individualism over the collective beneath the text of Jeff Calhoun’s production, and a definite off-the-peg McTheatre feel to the piece overall, but there’s also something to enjoy in the performances. Day and Want deliver their duets with pleasing voice and movement, while the supports generally manage to gird themselves up for sufficient joie de vivre to propel a fast-paced, showstopper-packed production. If there’s a vaguely clinical feel to proceedings, the sense that there’s constantly something to watch will help you through.