A new youth company, Dungarvan Junior Musical Society, took on the teen musical sensation, High School Musical, as their first attempt to Getcha Head In The Game at St. Augustine’s College and had a great slamdunk success for energy, enthusiasm and ensemble performance. It was great to sit in the audience and hear not only kids but parents singalong to the show’s hits like Get’cha Head In The Game, Bop To The Top, and the anthemic, We’re All In This Together.
They used the skills of David Hennessy to direct and choreograph, Brian Collins to set the technical detail and a human dynamo of Liza Caulfield to fulfil a plethora of other functions.
Initially I thought the recorded backing tracks were a tad too low but it did give the individual performers a chance to show their dramatic and interpretive skills. What was also impressive was the talent and strength in depth of this show with at least a dozen fine performers and a hardworking energised chorus.
Sometimes minor roles get lost in these tv/movie style shows but this was not the case with Eoin Sheridan as James or Aisling Maloney as Cathy in the audition scene. Conor O’Reilly was a fine DJ. Jack Scott joined in the big chorus numbers like a trouper.
Damien Dixon was a gruff but sympathetic Coach Bolton and Fiona Slater gave emotion and substance to Miss Darbus. Luke Stone as the secret baker Zeke was strong and important as was Christine Moore as the hip hop dancer/braniac; she had fine presence and dynamism.
Emma Casey shone as the quiet musician Kelsi Neilson and she had the charisma for an intense part. PJ Houlihan was excellent as Chad and Paula Weldon was equally fine as Taylor. This was my second time seeing Paula in shows as she was very impressive in the Richie Hayes Stage School Showcase.
Laura Hodnett had star-quality as the preening arrogant bitch-born-to-be-a-star Sharpay and she lit up the stage time and time again. Padraig O Muiriosa was attractive as Ryan, the put-upon twin brother of Sharpay and he was never sidelined by her antics.
Raymond Taylor was wonderful as the shy basketball hero and he grew in confidence as he has to in this show. His Troy was a cornerstone of so much of what was good, honest and exciting about this production. Ciara Hannigan, as the shy intelligent Gabriella, was equally wonderful and her scenes with Troy were tender, believable and essential to the story. Their duets Start Of Something New, What I’ve Been Looking For and Breaking Free, were excellent.
The attractive and active Cheerleaders were Aine Organ, Becky Hodnett, Christine Moore, Abigale Griffin, Aoife Power, Sarah Bollard, Lorna Cullen and Chloe Shanahan.