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'Musical': Simple, but it's catchy
An energetic cast makes for an enjoyable show.
By Marty Clear
Published July 21, 2007
If you're a kid or a parent, or even if you know a kid or a parent, chances are you're familiar with High School Musical, the Disney Channel movie that has become a huge hit on stage and disc.
If you've been struck with the hoopla but you've never seen the show or heard its hit songs, the current production at the Palladium Theater offers a pretty decent way to get acquainted.
A huge and generally impressive cast of students from the Palladium's Summer Lyric Conservancy program, solid direction and choreography, plus stick-in-your-head songs make the show enjoyable for people who appreciate frothy old-fashioned musicals. A simple story line with a decent little message about friendship make it appealing for parents who want to introduce their kids to theater.
The story is about a star basketball player and an academic whiz who both want to audition for their school's upcoming musical. But their respective cliques look down on the theater crowd, so they're reluctant. To make things worse, the musical's schedule conflicts with a big basketball game and a major academic competition.
It's slight for a plot line, but these are the kinds of issues that seem critical to us in high school.
The cast is most impressive during ensemble numbers. The entire cast shows off considerable energy and charisma, and there's seldom a tentative move by any of the three dozen or so actors.
They get considerable help from director Keven Renken and choreographer Michael Vassalo. Vassalo has designed dances that require more exuberance than precision. In nonmusical segments, Renken provides enough unobtrusive movement to keep the action looking natural. Among the cast's most solid performers are Emily Kaelber, Veronica Adams and David Bevis.
It's far from a flawless show. There's too much off-key singing, even for a student cast. But the major problems come from the sound. Inconsistent amplification and poor acoustics render much of the dialogue difficult or impossible to understand.
Marty Clear is a Tampa freelance writer who specializes in performing arts. He can be reached at email@example.com
High School Musical
2 and 7:30 p.m. today; 2 p.m. Sun.; Palladium Theater, 253 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg; $5-$20. 727 822-3590; www.mypalladium.org