After that blast of negativity, here's cheerier news:
Stages and Trumpets Playshop's production of "High School Musical" is such a hit that it's been extended for another weekend. More shows are scheduled on July 21 (3 p.m., 8 p.m.), and July 22 (3 p.m.). (For tickets, call Ticketworld 8919999 or STAGES 8181111 loc. 209 or 225.)
The stage version of the blockbuster Disney TV movie was first brought to Manila earlier this year by Ateneo's Blue Repertory, with Karel Marquez and Shark Alonzo as Gabriella Montez and Troy Bolton, respectively, under Chari Arespacochaga's direction. That show already had a sold-out run at SM Megamall.
Clearly, the local tween market isn't sated yet, because the afternoon I watched this new version--directed by Audie Gemora, with Sam Concepcion and Cheska Ortega in the leads--the roomy Meralco Theater was a full house of animated kids and their parents, titos, titas and yayas (for some). As the irrepressible McVie would say, Hu-well, hu-well, hu-well!
Coy aka CokskiBlue, the famous vlogger, was with me when I watched the show. As usual, I had a selfish reason for bringing him along. I'm trying to convince him to do a theater-related video blog, the better to reach out to his young peers and convince them (with the help of Coy's killer visuals and insanely modulated voiceover) that watching a play isn't, you know, uncool--the equivalent of social death.
Fortunately, Coy had had an acting class with director Anton Juan in his younger years in UP (where he's finishing his Computer Science degree). He only has fond memories of that brief stint, so more or less he's in on my evil plan.
Soon after we parted ways, he texted me with: "Thanks, bud. HSM blew me away."
He's not the only one, to go by the reviews:
"... The finale song, 'We're All in This Together,' is a real showstopper and will stick in your head for days." -- Mario Bautista, People's Journal
"This columnist tagged along and was rewarded with two hours of wholesome entertainment provided by supremely talented young artists, led by Sam Concepcion, Cheska Ortega, PJ Valerio, and Alex Godinez..." -- Ronald Constantino, Tempo
"Chinnie [Nepumuceno] has whipped up some stylish choreography that incorporated various aspects of the movie to the delight of HSM's kiddie spectators... Curtain call number adds some comic plot developments to the storyline and creates one of the most brilliantly executed curtain calls I've seen to date." -- Christopher de Venecia, Philippine Star
"Sam Concepcion... has proven that he really has what it takes to be a star." -- Ethel Ramos, Malaya
"The movie has been called cheesy, silly, and ungainly, but no withering reviews by any hard-to-please critic apply to the stage version, at least not the one currently running at the Meralco Theater." -- ClicktheCity.Com
"The whole cast breathed life into all the cute and bouncy melodies that have made HSM such a joy and a guilty pleasure for kids and adults alike." -- Yehey.Com
"All in all it was a good show for the kids," says WengOnline, at the end of a detailed post where she breaks down her observations of the whole experience. Good points, too.