Disney’s High School Musical, Review | NMTC Youth, Cripps Hall Theatre

NMTC return after their successful production of Les Miserables last year, this time with Disney’s High School Musical.

Reviewer: Pete Thorn

It’s easy to file High School Musical away in your memories as a simple Disney musical, but listening to it again tonight, I was reminded of how complex a lot of the numbers in the show are. There are often multiple tempo changes through each song, with the cast having to pick up the tunes and rhythms from the myriad being performed by the live 7-piece orchestra led by Musical Director Rod Iliffe.

The 40 strong cast were all obviously enjoying every minute of the show, in particular the tiniest members of the ensemble were the most enthusiastic, and were often worth missing the main action to watch them! To be honest, I only expected the youngest children to just be stage filler for the teenagers, but that’s not the case with NMTC Youth Society!

Both versions of “What I’ve Been Looking For, first sung by the Evans twins (Emily Moss and Henry Patterson) and then reprised by Troy and Gabriella (Ben Mineards and Eleanor Whitestone-Paul) were highlights of the show for me, all four of the leads had great singing voices and really cemented this show as a “proper” musical performance.

Photo credit: XPB Images Ltd

High School Musical really was an ensemble piece, and there were few moments when the stage wasn’t packed with the talented cast. With all of the smaller character parts coming together to make the show feel like it’s a window into a real school (though one sprinkled with Disney magic!). They all sang and acted fantastically well, and this was fully demonstrated in the Act One finale, “Stick to the Status Quo.

The two leads, Eleanor Whitestone-Paul’s Gabriella and Ben Mineards Troy had great chemistry and, like the entire cast, were word perfect throughout. For me, Henry, playing Ryan Evans, was the stand out of the night, his characterisation was great as he was unashamedly Ryan every moment he was on stage. Of course, he couldn’t have done it without his on-stage sister, Sharpay, played by Emily Moss – she perfectly delivered that line between villain and diva!

Hatti Taylor‘s characterisation of Kelsi was on point, in particular her piano playing was truly believable. And Louise White’s scene-stealing earthworm during the Drama detention class – was just the right side of ridiculous. Finally, the two teachers, played by Anya Neal and Matt Dixon, managed to carry their selves differently to the students and brought the required levels of maturity to their roles, in particular when Troy and Coach have a touching ‘Father and Son’ moment towards the end.

NMTC Youth Society’s High School Musical was obviously really well-rehearsed and everyone knew where they

should be at all times, so well done to Director Katy Batchelor and all the chaperones that helped corral the cast through rehearsals! Fiona Luck’s choreography throughout was fun and energetic and the cast evidently knew all of the dance steps. Their energy levels stayed high for whole performance, and impressively even for the 5-minute megamix at the end! The scene changes throughout were really slick, which is particularly impressive as I saw the opening night! Well done to Nathalie Kopecky and her team.

Overall, this was a fun night out to see an enthusiastic cast perform a slick show full of upbeat numbers – what more could you look for in a night out?

Performance Thu 18 April 2019

NMTC Youth Society’s High School Musical plays at the Cripps Hall Theatre in Northampton from Thu 18 – Sat 20 April, performing at 2:30pm and 6:30pm daily. Tickets are available from ticketsource.co.uk/cripps-hall

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