'High School Musical' the class favorite at Fair Park Music Hall

Written by DSM Columnists on Thursday, July 3, 2008 at 12:00 AM

7/3/2008 12:00AM CST
The Dallas Morning News
'High School Musical' the class favorite at Fair Park Music Hall

By JOY TIPPING

View article on their website here

Whatever its artistic merits, Disney's High School Musical has accomplished something special at the Music Hall at Fair Park: throngs of children and teens lined up, giddy with excitement over live theater. We're talking jumping up and down with glee.
The kids even got into a "dress for the theater" spirit – cute sundresses with matching tights and color-coordinated sneakers for the girls, nice pants and shirts for the boys. Frankly, I've rarely seen adults dressed that well for Dallas theater, or that well-behaved.
HSM takes its spot in the pantheon of musical theater as the place where theater geekdom becomes the epitome of cool. It's the theatrical version of the fair midway: full of flash and frivolity, color and movement, with all the substance of cotton candy. But honestly, when you're having that much sheer fun, who needs substance?
For those who've been watching only HBO for the last couple of years, HSM (which began as a movie on the Disney Channel) tells the story of "freaky math girl" Gabriella Montez (played by Arielle Jacobs) and "playmaker dude" basketball star Troy Bolton (John Jeffrey Martin). They bond over a summer-break karaoke session and then meet again when Gabriella transfers to Troy's digs, Albuquerque's East High School.
Much to the disdain of their respective cliques, Gabriella and Troy both secretly long for stardom of a different sort: the title roles in the winter musical, Juliet and Romeo, a "delicious neofeminist adaptation ... with three tap numbers!" as drama teacher Ms. Darbus (a wickedly funny Ellen Harvey) describes it.
Tension, trauma and many musical numbers ensue, and of course everything works out in the end for the big finale of "We're All in This Together."
This is a true ensemble show, with no breakout star roles, although Ms. Jacobs and Mr. Martin show warmth, charisma and decent voices as Gabriella and Troy. Heléne Yorke also stands out as the irritating Sharpay, the school's drama queen – in more ways than one – who has a tinny, screechy voice that perfectly matches the bark of her namesake dog.
This isn't Les Misérables, or even Grease (which it resembles somewhat). But it's a genuinely sweet-spirited, infectiously enjoyable reason for the whole family to see theater together – without once making the parents cringe.Plan your life
Through July 13 at Fair Park Music Hall, $18.50 to $78.50. 214-631-2787, http://www.dallassummermusicals.org/.

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