Kirwan’s Soaring, Flying, High School Musical

Kirwan State High School's production of 'High School Musical' will fill the Excelsior Centre again tonight and on Saturday. IMAGE: Fiona Cochrane

It’s the Disney movie that said no to the status quo and told the Romeo and Juliet-esque love story of a sports star and a nerd caught in the evil clutches of high school hierarchy – and its live action musical is taking over Townsville this weekend.

High School Musical is being performed by Kirwan State High School at their Excelsior Centre until this Saturday night – but from the moment you step inside the venue, everything screams high quality theatre. The production was rehomed from the Civic Theatre, following continuing maintenance after February’s unpredictable weather event – but the staging, tiered seating and lighting  has transformed the school’s hall to ensure audience member’s receive the full theatre experience.

Sophie Jones and Kai Wilson as Sharpay and Ryan Evans in Kirwan State High School’s ‘High School Musical.’ IMAGE: Fiona Cochrane

Last night, Daniel Lobley made his stage debut as Troy Bolton – and what a debut. It was impossible to tell it was Daniel’s first time as a lead, let alone first time on stage at all, with powerful vocals, a smorgasbord of emotion, and basketball skills that would make Zac Efron jealous.

Opposite Daniel, Molly Gardner’s Gabriella was every bit as timid and sweet as you would expect – but there was nothing timid about her once she began to sing, with an incredible voice that filled the Excelsior Centre.

An unexpected standout was Taylor Buse’s Mrs Darbus – the eccentric drama teacher that really puts the exclamation point on drama club. Taylor had the audience laughing from her very first scene (with the help of a very enigmatic earthworm), and we continued to see her character’s personality grow throughout the show as she protected her sacred arts from the well-funded sports and STEM departments.

Sophie Jones and Kai Wilson gave sibling duo Sharpay and Ryan Evans their own flair, with some great comedic moments throughout the production making them the characters everyone loves to hate.

It’s the ensemble numbers where Kirwan really shines year after year, though: with incredible – and at times complex – choreography somehow performed in perfect synchronicity by the entire cast. Backed by a pumping band and framed by minimal but clever set (Sharpay’s locker will be the envy of every girl at Kirwan, now), every member of the cast gave their all last night and it showed, with an incredible amount of energy blasted at the audience.

The leads in Kirwan State High School’s ‘High School Musical.’ IMAGE: Fiona Cochrane

There were a couple of rushed song entries and a microphone or two not switching on, but the opening night jitters have been shaken out now – and if the cast have even half the energy they did last night, audiences will be ready to dance by bows.

Congratulations to Director Lindsay Nobile on an incredible feat – a show that looked certain to be cancelled or drastically postponed following the closure of the Civic Theatre has demonstrated the versatility of the school’s brand new Excelsior Centre, and has showed promising potential for the school to host productions in the future.

Catch Kirwan State High School’s High School Musical at the school’s Excelsior Centre tonight and tomorrow night, with tickets available here.

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