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July 24, 2007 > Disney's High School Musical live!

Disney's High School Musical live!

By Julie Grabowski

Jumping with pom-pommed enthusiasm from the small screen to the stage, "Disney's High School Musical" spreads its Wildcat spirit with Stage 1 Children's Theatre. Stage 1 is the first Alameda County theatre company to secure the rights to the production, based on the hugely successful Disney Channel Original Movie released last January.

The story begins in a very "Grease"-like fashion when basketball captain Troy Bolton and brainiac Gabriella Montez bump into one another at the same Albuquerque high school after singing a Karaoke song together at a ski lodge on New Year's Eve. Both have singular identities and expectations put upon them: Troy to win the basketball championship, and transfer student Gabriella to lead the Science Decathlon Team. They egg one another on to audition for the lead roles in the new high school musical, shocking their cliques and threatening the star status of a brother and sister team who has dominated the last 17 productions. Identities are challenged, peer pressure tests friendship and blurs duty, but Troy and Gabriella's audition leap inspires other students to reveal their secret passions and talents. When the callback auditions, science decathlon, and basketball game are all scheduled to take place at the same time, choices need to be made and drastic measures taken.

"High School Musical" is delivered in several bite-size scenes where the music often overpowers the vocals. However such instances do not affect Christi Wallace who as Gabriella exhibits the strongest voice in the production. The lifeblood of the show is to be found in Kimberly Chatterjee as devious drama queen Sharpay Evans, and Justin Obcena as Jack Scott, the animated narrator of all school schedules and happenings. Chatterjee delivers her character in perfect pitch with every word and action. Obcena is a zany delight each time he pops up to announce the current news to his peeps. Alexis Burris also amuses with her performance as the passionate, gong-toting drama teacher Ms. Darbus.

Out of all the musical numbers three are strong standouts: "What I've Been Looking For" and "Stick to the Status Quo" in act one, and the uplifting, unifying "We're All in This Together" in the second half, the reprise of which ends the show on a feel good high note. While frothy, "High School Musical" delivers a good message. It encourages people to step out of their prescribed niches, to challenge the status quo and be multi-dimensional individuals pursuing every interest without reservation. Equally important is the need to accept and encourage others as a whole, not just the part you might prefer. While this production could use a bit more practice to achieve an overall sharpness and unity, it will be a big hit with young audiences and also entertain the older theatergoer.

Tickets for adult admission at the door are $20, $18 for seniors and college students. All tickets purchased in advance through Stage 1's ticket line, Pay Pal Web site, or at Book End cost $18. Children 17 and under are $10, and groups of ten or more cost $15 with 48 hours advance purchase. For more information or to purchase tickets visit, or call (510) 791-0287.

Disney's High School Musical
July 20-22, and 27-29
8 p.m.
Newark Memorial High School Theatre
39375 Cedar Blvd., Newark
(510) 791-0287
Tickets $10-$20

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