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High School Musical’ arrives with gusto at Lipson

Following the exciting Primary matinee shows that took place this week, it was with great anticipation that I arrived to watch Lipson Co-operative Academy’s first evening show of ‘High School Musical.’ Primary school children from our local feeder schools had left with a real buzz following their viewing; you could hear the clapping and cheering across the school! This proved to be a fantastic opportunity to allow the cast to shine before opening night- and what an opening night it was!

The rip roaring production, directed by Natasha Scrivener and choreographed by Kate Mooney, was full of a range of vocal, musical, acting and dance talent. Musical arrangements were expertly provided by Gavin Martin and the Music team through their live accompaniments that kept the crowd toe tapping and showcased the range of musical talents amongst both staff and students.   

What infuses this play with much of its character and liveliness, are Helen Netting and Louis Wilkes’ lively performances as Gabriella and Troy; both come across as friendly, well-adjusted, and immensely likable as characters and are anchored within their strong vocal talents that were exhibited throughout in rousing numbers such as ‘Start of Something New,’ supported by the cast, and more sombre and poignant performances within ‘What I’ve Been Looking For.’

Humour was interwoven throughout some witty and clever performances by our talented sixth form students who anchored the play in their portrayal of high school teaching staff. Sam Hugo as Coach Bolton was both funny and believable in his portrayal of the basketball obsessed father looking out for the best interests of his son. Ruth Cuming, as Miss Darbus, handled the complicated and ambitious script vernacular with ease and truly led us to believe in her vision of a theatrical education!

Throughout, this was juxtaposed with our archetypal ‘villains turned good’ in the guise of sister duo, Sharpay and Ryan, played by Nieve Fay and Rhiannon Witt. Their witty humour and sharp tongued comedy were a true joy to watch and provided the necessary characterisation contrast- you would not want to get on the wrong side of these girls! 

The audience were clapping and singing along from start to finish and the entire cast showcased such professionalism and enthusiasm that it was infectious. Well done to all involved!