Review: A high school musical to be proud of

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Wakatipu High can be proud of the depth of its performing arts talent with its latest high school musical, Grease.

Opening to a full house at the Memorial Hall last night (Tuesday), kids involved in the popular musical put on an admirable first-night performance.

Despite a few technical glitches and opening night jitters, the audience was left with a sense of appreciation and wonderment that practically the entire show – from acting to choreography to music – was produced by school students.

Leads – and school head boy and girl – Max Gunn, who played Danny, and Daisy Hylton, playing Sandy, grew in confidence as the musical progressed with some excellent solo singing moments. However in some of the duets the pair sang Daisy’s voice struggled to be heard over the music and other vocals.

Local theatre golden girl Emily Burns again showed her class and depth of skill in character performance with her rendition of Rizzo. Her belting solos were a pleasure to listen to.

Emily’s on-stage partner Alex Fraser, playing Kenickie, also delivered a good performance with a strong voice and good character interpretation.

Other stand-outs include Caitlin Rivers, with strong vocals as Jan in Mooning and delivery of her food-loving character, and fellow Pink Lady Marty, played by Sarah Foley, singing a powerful Freddy My Love.

Caleb Dawson-Swale (Roger), Jared Campbell (Sonny) and Mitch Martin (Doody) were also impressive as T-Birds.

Jonty Norton, making his fantastic theatre debut with geeky and bumbling Eugene, should continue being on stage. Sam Maxwell superbly delivered Teen Angel solo Beauty School Drop-Out.

One priceless moment was when a member of the ensemble put his foot through the stage floor during Greased Lightning. The rest of the cast remained in character while the audience held its breath – watching to see if the boy had injured himself before bursting into applause when he pulled his leg from the hole.

Choreography was clever and costumes were effective. Set was a tad simple and scene changes were often too slow. The band performed the classic Grease hits with style.

Overall, Wakatipu High’s Grease was very good student performance. The kids looked as if they were having a blast, and the audience was with them all the way. 

Grease runs at the Memorial Hall till Friday.