Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Through catchy music, well-organized choreography, and humor, the cast of GSIS’ High School Musical Junior guided audiences through an hour-and-a-half long production that simply conveyed the high school experience. Interweaving themes of romance, identity, and personal growth, the cast skillfully sang and danced their hearts out to entertain and engage audiences.
“But you can’t let people stop you from doing what you want to do, right?” Troy said.
“Remember how cool kindergarten was? You’d meet somebody, and ten minutes later you were best friends.” Gabriella replied.
This dialogue, in my opinion, was the most memorable one throughout the musical because it connected quite well to the theme of finding one’s identity. High School Musical, contrary to what some may say, is not shallow; instead, it succeeds in cutely and simply conveying the common self-identity crisis that many teenagers face.
The delivery of this coming-of-age message by the GSIS cast was quite good. From stylistic high points such as Troy Bolton (Chris Cho)’s signature note in “Getcha Head in the Game” to hilarious moments such as the standoff between Ms. Darbus (Sunny Cha) and Coach Bolton (Bill Moon), the cast was, overall, successful in demonstrating talent and fun.
Personally, my favorite character was Sharpay, played by Geena Huh. Geena was highly in-character throughout the entire production, and her performance was natural and easy, not overdone as some might portray Sharpay’s fiery and sassy character. A good singer and a genuine dancer, Geena appeared entirely at ease onstage, contrasting with many of the newer cast members, whose delivery was clunky at times.
And considering the lack of prior experience, that kind of delivery was only understandable. “My experience on the stage before the musical is zero.” James Ahn, who played Zeke Baylor, admitted.
Even Chris Cho, who played the lead, had his first musical experience through this production. “Before High School Musical, although I really liked singing on stage, I never did a musical, or just acting in general, before. However, now that I did the musical, I feel really good and proud about it and I know I would have regretted it if I had not done it.”
All things aside, High School Musical Junior as performed by the GSIS cast deserves 4.5 stars for the themes and the performers’ delivery, especially considering the lack of prior experience the cast had overall. Best of luck for next year’s production, which will hopefully be as good as or better than this year’s.