Disney Enterprises Inc.
Troy Bolton (John Jeffrey Martin), center, and the rest of his Wildcat teammates in the stage version of "High School Musical."
"HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL," National Tour, Capitol Theatre, through Aug. 3 (801-355-2787); running time: 2 hours, 15 minutes (one intermission)

I like Disney's "High School Musical." I think it's a cute show, with fun, peppy numbers, likable characters and a wonderful message. We need more shows like it, in fact.

How refreshing for parents to have their kids going nuts about something so positive and wonderfully innocent, with a theme about fitting in, liking people for who they are and reaching for the stars. I hope they keep cranking them out.

If that describes how you feel about "High School Musical" — your kids know every song by heart, and perhaps have a crush on Troy or Gabriella — then you're going to like the Broadway Across America live stage version, which is in town until Sunday at Capitol Theatre.

The opening house was packed with kids and tweens who were captivated the minute the curtain lifted. As each character came on stage, there were murmurs of recognition and an energy that matched that of the cast during the opening number, "Wildcat Cheer," and "Start of Something New."

"HSM" had great costumes and wonderful sets — defying the notion that touring shows aren't able to have sets.

Lisa Stevens' choreography is fun to watch, and the basketball number was especially well done. Bravo to the men who got through it without missing a beat ... or a dribble.

This production has all of the songs from the popular soundtrack (plus two extras) and all the energy and spirit of the movie — your kids will love it. But parents, make sure your kids understand that they're not seeing the movie cast on stage. I overheard a few kids a touch confused that the actors weren't Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens (stars of the movie).

If you're interested in the nitty-gritty. ...

High school basketball star, Troy Bolton, is played by John Jeffrey Martin, who certainly looks the part. He's darling, looks good in his basketball uniform and can dance. No wonder all the girls were swooning. His singing though seemed a bit pushed — especially his top notes, which he delivered more like a raspy rock 'n' roller, rather than pop-style. At times that worked and at other times it just sounded like he couldn't hit the notes.

Arielle Jacobs is brainiac Gabriella Montez. She's beautiful and looks quite a bit like Hudgens. Her voice is nice, singing through her ballads with ease, but the handful of scenes that required acting weren't super convincing.

Overall though, the two capture what they need to, and they did a fine job.

That same cannot be said for Helene Yorke, who played bad-girl Sharpay Evans. With a strange nasally vocal affectation and an over-the-top, sing-song delivery of her lines, the characterization of the mean-spirited drama queen just didn't come across.

Though some of the cast looked much closer to 30 than the 18-year-olds they're supposed to be playing, they sounded great together and still captured a youthful excitement. Olivia Oguma as Kelsi and Michael Mahany as Jack Scott were especially enjoyable.

"High School Musical" is fun. It's cute, energetic and this show is worth a night out. (Fair warning, parents: The souvenir stand is loaded with items that your kids are going to want — be prepared).


E-mail: ehansen@desnews.com