High School Musical

Date 14th February 2024
Society Shoeburyness High School
Venue Shoeburyness High School Theatre
Type of Production Musical
Creative Team Danielle Jameson, Danielle Griggs, Claire Curtis, Connie Sexton & Phil Oodian
Musical Director Paul Heron


Author: Tessa Davies

It’s always such a pleasure to visit these school productions, the creative team have an inclusive policy so that every pupil who wants to be in the show can take part.  Sometimes that’s many students, in this case 110!  It’s a directorial challenge to enable everyone to be on a relatively small  stage and performing, but the creative team always manage to achieve it and I am sure this is a great incentive for the cast to perform.

Many of the lead roles are shared and, on this occasion, I attended two performances to enable me to see as many Principals as possible.

Luke Evans played Troy in both performances that I saw, and he showed how much he has developed in confidence since I last saw him playing Ren in Footloose.  He has a great voice, and his characterisation was excellent.   I saw two girls play Gabriella; Lola Jenkins and Eloise Rothwell, both girls could have projected more, they were mic’d but this is no benefit if the actor doesn’t project.  Both gave excellent, if slightly different characterisations and the chemistry between Eloise and Luke was particularly good.

The other major pairing in the show is between twins Sharpey and Ryan. Christopher Hadzl played Ryan at both performances, and he was outstanding.  He has great comedy timing and a natural stage presence that had me watching him whenever he was on stage.  I saw two girls paying Sharpey and they did very well.  It's not an easy part to play as she must be underhand and a bit spiteful.   Both Cadie-Lee Fisher and Summer Foskett managed to make the character likeable and sassy without alienating the audience, not an easy thing to do.

The supporting principals all did very well; David Ademolake and Matthew Maosa shared the role of Chad.  Both newcomers to the school productions, they gave good performances, gaining confidence as the show progressed.  I saw Deborah Adesola play Taylor, a great characterisation, and terrific vocals!  Calum Laird and Kingsley Madlanganu shared the role of Zeke, the closet baker, well done bringing that character to life.

Kelsi, the writer of the ‘in show’ show was played by Becky Crump and Honey Richardson.  Both showed excellent empathy and good characterisation.  The keyboard ‘playing’ was very well done by them both.   Victoria Sweeney played Miss Darbus, the drama teacher; another great character although I would like Victoria to slow her dialogue down, she had some very funny lines and some of them were lost in the speed of delivery.  Still a very good portrayal.  Jamie Powell played Coach Bolton, another strong performer and good to see how much Jamie has developed as an actor over the past couple of years.

Its impossible to mention everyone, much as I would like to!  But there are a few other members of the cast and crew that I would like to give ‘shout out’ to.  Chessy Dobson seemed to be everywhere, not just playing her first part as one of the radio commentary team, but also, seemingly transporting to a different part of the stage for small character parts and being one of the team of excellent dancers and, finally showing her acrobatic skills.  Well done.  The dancers were all excellent, well drilled and expressive or excited as required by the action on stage.  A special mention, too, for James Hudson for some great characterisation, I liked the worm!

The band was, as always, supportive, providing the music under the guidance of Paul Heron. All were students I believe, which is good to see, well done.

The technical team, actually the creative team with a few extras, worked really hard.  I always compliment the school on their scene changes, it’s as though they were choreographed as, almost without exception, the props and moving scenery were added, removed or changed seamlessly, maintaining the pace of the show.

This is a small stage area and the way the props and scenery were presented made a great difference to the look of the show.  Lighting and sound were good, occasionally a mic was a bit late coming up but with so many performers on stages it’s not surprising.  I was particularly impressed to be told that the sound was designed by a year 9 student, James Liddell.  It was outstanding and James, definitely, has a future in theatre technical work.  Costumes were excellent, well done to all the creatives who worked so hard to make the production look and sound so good.