Disney High School Musical On Stage
By David Simpatico. Holy Cross College, Ellenbrook, WA. Directed by Shelly Miller. Aug 10-12, 2023
Holy Cross College’s Disney High School Musical on Stage is the biggest production staged by the college to date, with over 60 students in the cast, and another 20 or so on the crew. Attracting very healthy audiences over its short season, it was a wonderful celebration of collaboration and talent.
The college’s Sports Centre is a huge, rather cavernous venue, and the temporary theatre set up (very nicely done) takes us about a quarter of the space - obviously less than ideal for most productions, but it works well for this basketball themed production - with the floor already marked for the basketball scenes. Shelly Miller’s set design is a multilevel construction that serves the production nicely with set changes handled by what must be the speediest and most efficient stage crew of the year. The show is well lit by a design from Shelly Miller on a temporary rig from Bailey Fellowes.
Costumes by Shelly Miller, Georgina Pratt and cast are great, with excellent use of colour and the uniforms being particularly striking.
Great commitment to role from everyone on stage with student cliques being well portrayed. Tom Rankin is the best basketballer that I have ever seen play Troy Bolton (and much more convincing as a sports star even than Zac Effron). Therese Topliss is lovely as leading lady Gabriella Montez. Nevada Rosetti belies the fact that this is her first full length performance, shining as the antagonist Sharpay, accompanied by Luke Chappell, flamboyant as her twin Ryan.
Strong performances from Bella Gethin, convincing as Taylor McKessie, and Bradley Fisher, giving solid support as Chad Danforth. Jackson Martin is an audience favourite as school radio announcer Jack Scott, with Sheridan Spencer sweet as composer Kelsi. Theodore Gomes-Sebastian has wonderful presence as Zeke, while Mwansa Nwaleis is impressive in the small role of Martha.
It is never easy to play a character much older than oneself, but Ella Bevilaqua as Miss Darbus and Bertie Turrell-Wright bring maturity to their respective roles.
The cast throughout attack Georgina Pratt’s choreography with precision and energy, with the cheerleading numbers a standout.
Performing to a great sounding live band under the direction of Kieran Ridgway, and good singing from developing voices under the direction of vocal director Kerri Sloper, the audience could be heard singing as they walked to their cars.
High School Musical is a credit to the college and a wonderful celebration of the arts. Congratulations to all involved.