Candlelight Wows Audience With “Disney’s High School Musical”

“Those High School Days” Are Alive And Well In Johnstown.

Reviewed by Tom Jones
June 30, 2024

Christmas vacation is over and the students at East High School have returned to take their places in the hierarchy of teenage America. All of our high school friends (and enemies) are there. The jocks, the pompous pom pom girls, the brainiacs, the over-protective faculty advisors, and so many of us who were a bit lost in the jungle that was high school.

This has every potential of being a scary, unhappy look at the past. But Candlelight has pulled out all the stops to provide an exuberant and joyous trip down a memory lane that should not be missed. “Disney’s High School Musical” appeared on film in 2006 and has gone on to become a stage hit in local high schools nationwide

Photo Credit The Creative Agency

Thomas Beeker as Troy Bolton and Andrea Camacho as Gabrielle Montez are delightful as the school’s most famous jock, and the newcomer who transfers into the school just after the holidays knowing no one. They are both already skilled performers and are just terrific, as is just about everyone in this ensemble of many new faces with great talent!

It becomes fun to hate the over-the-top school diva, Sharpay Evans, played by Delaney Marie, and her hapless brother, Ryan, played by Curtis Lemieux who exudes talent with a combination of skill, wonder and goofiness.

Photo Credit The Creative Agency

All four of the leads are new to Candlelight, and will hopefully be seen in many future shows. Also new to Candlelight’s stage is Olivia Wilson, who plays Kelsi Nielsen the shy wallflower who has just written the school’s upcoming musical production based on “Romeo and Juliet,” and Chris Akele as Chad Danforth, Troy Bolton’s best friend. Giving excellent support are familiar faces such as Damon Guerrasio as Coach Bolton, Owen Whitman as Zeke Baylor, and Smantha Jo Staggs as Ms. Darbus.

Carrie Colton, director and choreographer, is known to Candlelight from her great work with “The Sound of Music” and “The Scarlet Pimpernel.” Chas Lederer is Associate Director and is familiar to Candlelight audiences from his work on stage in several shows including, “The Secret Garden,” “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” and “The Little Mermaid.” Associate Music Director is Mason Siders, who assisted with “Secret Garden, “Joseph,” and “The Scarlet Pimpernel.” Jalyn Courtenay Webb is Music Director whose magic and incredible skills have been appreciated in virtually every production known to man. Her on-stage skills include being recipient of the Colorado Theater Guild Award for best actress in “Always, Patsy Cline” a few seasons ago.

Photo Credit The Creative Agency

The collaboration of new faces with experienced artists combine to create a super evening of entertainment. Choreography is especially fun with an amazing game of basketball choreographed to perfection. Early in the show, the theater students are encouraged to “become what you want to be,” with Jazz Mueller inching across the stage in a glorious inch-worm routine that needs be seen to be believed. The set, lighting, and sound, are all terrific. The musical accompaniment is taped. Songs, while not familiar to me, were obviously well known to opening night viewers who all but sang along with great enthusiasm.

Photo Credit The Creative Agency

Premise is an overview of life at East High, with the athletes, brainiacs, thespians, musicians and would-be scientists vying for popularity, acceptance and yes, the excitement of basic friendship. The high school basketball team is in line for a possible state championship, the theater department is hosting auditions for the school musical, written this time around by a shy student. Faculty advisors spar for acknowledgement of their various departments.

And the audience is treated to a summer treasure, remembering where they fit into their own high school story! While picking up tickets for opening night performance, a couple in front of me was trying to purchase tickets to the sold-out show. They were offered some seats in the balcony/mezzanine. While pausing before such a purchase, they queried, “What is playing here tonight?”

They bought tickets, and I didn’t see them after the performance, but I am wondering what planet they arrived from wondering “What’s Playing tonight?” in one of Colorado’s best playhouses!

“Disney High School Musical on Stage!”
Where: The Candlelight
4747 Marketplace Drive, Johnstown, CO
When: Now through September 8, 2024
Information or tickets: Box Office: 970/744-3747