Review | Play: CHS Fine Arts Production of Disney’s High School Musical

By John F. Kaiser III – Navarro County Gazette

Last night marked the opening night, and culmination of months of hard work that all put into the Corsicana High School Fine Arts production of Disney’s High School Musical. This high energy, talent filled spectacle only has two more performances: 7:30 p.m. Friday Dec. 3, and 2 p.m. Saturday Dec. 4. Tickets range from $5 for students, $10 for general, and $15 for reserved and can be purchased at the door or by emailing the show’s director at abain@cisd.org. The CHS auditorium is located at 3701 E. State Hwy 22 in the Corsicana High School building.

If you somehow have missed the boat on the phenomenon that Disney’s High School Musical became, think of it as a modern retelling of Grease/Romeo and Juliet. It is high school clique versus high school clique until everything goes clique clique boom and drama erupts. Instead of the greasers versus the preps, or the Capulets versus the Montagues, it’s the jocks versus the brainiacs versus the thespians versus the skaters, versus… well, you get the picture. High School Musical wears the allusion to Romeo and Juliet on it’s sleeve given the crux of the show’s drama revolves around trying out for the high school musical Juliet and Romeo written by East Side High student Kelsi Nielsen (Lindsay Branch).

An autographed poster from the entire cast is being auctioned off to raise money for the Fine Arts Booster Club.

A winter romance away from school rekindles when mathematical genius/bookworm Gabriella Montez (Brooke Snodgrass) is transferred to the school of her random winter vacation karaoke partner/local basketball hero Troy Bolton (played by Adrian Baston). It was music that brought them together, it is their cliques that will drive them a part, but in the end its the music that brings everyone together. The overall theme of the show is to not be defined by just one thing you do, do not be defined by your group of peers, but to be yourself. This is coupled with a strong message of looking past your differences and working together with others for a common goal – a message a lot of people could use hearing these days.

Directed by CHS theatre alum turned CHS Theatre Teacher, Alyssa Bain, High School Musical is her directorial debut in this new position. It is such a solid, energetic, well crafted production it is easy to see why she got the job and sets a high bar for what to expect moving forward. The show moves at a brisk pace with a large cast giving it their all. It takes a solid director with a solid team to put together so many moving pieces. High praise goes out to Choreographer Annot Walthall, Tech Director Debbie Taylor, Music Director Chris Wheelock, and the “all knowing, all seeing tech guru” Adam Walthall. You do not get a production as strong as this without the talent behind the scenes to pull it off.

The “hero” and “villain” leads shine throughout with side characters getting some big moments too. There is one scene during one of the drama class segments where the students are portraying different animals. Of all the monkeys and birds scurrying about, it is Raistlin Janeway’s portrayal of a lowly worm that steals the scene that caused the audience to roar with laughter and applause during my viewing.

Adrian Baston as Troy Bolton gives Zach Effron (who originated the role in the movie series) a run for his money with his natural charisma and athleticism that is showcased throughout. It is hard to believe this is his first time on stage. Playing opposite as the quiet, intelligent bookworm with an amazing voice is Brooke Snodgrass as Gabriella Montez. While more quite and demure, she stands her own and stands out against Baston’s bigger personality.

Things for the burgeoning couple would not be so hard if not for the underhandedness of thespian drama queens Sharpay and Ryan Evans performed in classic scene stealing glory by Erin Jones and Graham Conklin. Each take to the stage like they own it, which when given the spotlight, they do. Conklin is another newcomer to the stage, that takes to it like he was born there. High School Musical is a fantastic collaboration of new and seasoned youth talent.

Jatavia James as drama teacher Ms. Darbus brings in a lot of the shows laughs and commands your attention when she is on. Brandon Carlisle as Chad Denforth, Troy’s best friend, pulls off a great “dude-bro” jock with his own character arch across the cliques. So too does Andersen Bybee as Coach Jack Bolton, Troy’s dad (though less dude-bro, and more stern, overbearing father). Lindsey Branch shows her talent by pulling off the character of Kelsi Nielsen, the clumsy playwright who has little faith in her own abilities. Bettsy Grimaldo, Christian McNutt, Anajah Ross and Jack Petersen all bring strong performances as well to the characters Taylor McKessie, Zeke Baylor, Martha Cox, and Jack Scott respectively.

During the big numbers there is so much going on you almost need to see it twice just to catch every little thing. From the Cheerleaders Abigail Walthall, Kailey Kinkade, Madison O’Sullivan and Isabella Perkins, to the Jocks Cutter Hansen, Scott Summerall, Jesse Mann, Alexis Samaniego, Christian Cuellar, Juan Ayala and Laura Towles, from the Thespians Jacolby Pleasant, Clara Simmons, Raistlin Janeway and Sarah Towels, to the Braniacs Dayanara Sosa, Kayliana Scott, Hannah White, Sam Olalde, Hannah Bates, Alexis Ledezma and Eileen Ortiz, and the Skaters Taryn “Link” Woodruff, Emma Fuller and Araceli Gonzalez (and all those that played double duty between the cliques) – all of them were giving it their all on that stage.

I could go on more, but you would do yourself better to just share this article with your friends and family then get your tickets to the show and see for yourself.

Jay Jones, Carol Jones, and Gary Janeway of the Fine Arts Booster (FAB) Club selling snacks and souvenirs to raise money to support the fine arts at CHS. Be sure to get your treats and goodies when you go – it’s all for a great cause!
To get involved with FAB or find out more how you can be of support, check out their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Corsicana-ISD-Fine-Arts-Booster-Club-101400778922346

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