By David Simpatico; Original Songs by Matthew Gerrard and Robbie Nevil; Ray Cham, Greg Cham, and Andrew Seeley; Randy Petersen and Kevin Quinn; Andy Dodd and Adam Watts; Bryan Louiselle; David N. Lawrence and Faye Greenberg; and Jamie Houston
Based on a Disney Channel Original Movie by Peter Barsocchini
Produced by Brooklyn Theatre Club
Off Off Broadway, Musical
Ran through 3.8.18
Muchmores, 2 Havemeyer Street
by Zachary Conner on 3.10.18
Lauren Drapek and Alex Tse in High School Musical. Photo by Maria Uminski.
BOTTOM LINE: An immersive interpretation of one of Disney’s most successful teen musicals, Brooklyn Theatre Club's High School Musical is surprisingly fun and undeniably entertaining.
To walk into the performance space used by the Brooklyn Theatre Club means being completely and unabashedly open to experiencing an immersive production that will require you to not only interact with the performers, but also play your own actual character over the course of the show. Not really knowing what to expect, I dove head first into their recent staging of Disney’s High School Musical—with surprising and unexpectedly entertaining results.
If you’re not familiar with the venue, the Brooklyn Theatre Club houses their performances in the round. In addition, the physical space is very…intimate, so a desire, or at least willingness, to be up in a performer's business is necessary. On the plus side, this means that no seat is a bad seat. On the flip side, this means that if you aren’t feeling any one moment of the production, there’s no hiding. Everyone can and will see how you are reacting to the performance in front of you.
For those of us not well-versed in one of Disney’s most successful cinematic sagas, High School Musical is the story of two high schoolers attending East High in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Troy Bolton (Chris Shore) is the all-star basketball player. Gabriella Montez (Lauren Drapek) is the shy but brilliant bookworm. What brings these two unlikely souls together? Why, the spring musical of course! Over the duration of roughly two hours, the pair grapple with their own reservations about leaving their comfortable high school cliques to perform, and are tested by the die-hard king and queen of the theatre department, Sharpay (Mara Frankel) and Ryan Evans (Jon Friestedt). Without giving specifics away, the two eventually find a way to reconcile their past and present, and begin “The Start of Something New” …
Luckily, this production of High School Musical was incredibly fun. Simply accepting the show for what it is prior to entering the theatre helps, but once the show begins, it’s very obvious that the actors are committed to telling the story. I was assigned the role of an eager drama department student, complete with the requirement to actually sing a solo during the performance, and I had a ball. Once you grab a drink from the bar and get into the groove of what you’re experiencing, you’re more than likely going to have a fantastic time. Obviously, fans of the source material will enjoy the experience more than others, but there’s a little something for just about everyone at a Brooklyn Theatre Club production. Also, credit is due to Disney—I haven’t been able to get those damn tunes out of my head since leaving the theatre…
(High School Musical played at Muchmore's, 2 Havemeyer Street, through March 8, 2018. The running time was 2 hours with an intermission. Performances were 3/1 at 9, 3/3 at 6, and 3/8 at 9. Tickets were $15 online, $18 at the door. For more information visit brooklyntheatreclub.com.)
High School Musical has a book by David Simpatico, with original songs by Matthew Gerrard and Robbie Nevil; Ray Cham, Greg Cham, and Andrew Seeley; Randy Petersen and Kevin Quinn; Andy Dodd and Adam Watts; Bryan Louiselle; David N. Lawrence and Faye Greenberg; and Jamie Houston. Music adapted, arranged, and produced by Bryan Louiselle. Based on a Disney Channel Original Movie by Peter Barsocchini.
The cast is Chris Shore, Lauren Drapek, Mara Frankel, Jon Friestedt, Stephen Schapero, Allie Beik, Adam Pearce, Nina Kova, Connor O'Brien, and Alex Tse.