Wexford People

| 7.8°C Dublin

High School Musical cast shine a light through gloom

WALT DISNEY would not have approved of the word but Alan Corcoran was correct, it had been a 'crappy week'.

Crappy jobless figures, crappy pay cuts, crappy weather. A joke text doing the rounds proclaiming 'the light at the end of the tunnel has been switched off ' was beginning to ring true.

The South East Radio presenter and former CBS boy was speaking at the tail end of the gala night of ' High School Musical' in the Pres hall where the cast of Pres and CBS students and their partners, Oyster Lane Theatre Group, had just wowed their seventh audience in seven days.

This had been show director Corcoran's baby and he spoke with all the passion of a proud parent whose child had not only taken a first step but performed a flawless pirouette and played a note-perfect ' Star Spangled Banner' on the banjo at the same time. With gloom enveloping the country, all we have is entertainment, he said, and for two and a half hours on a cold February night in Wexford we all believed him.

As the parents-turned-taxi drivers will tell you, the young cast put hours of effort over a number of months into the Wexford version of ' High School Musical' which, in case you don't already know, is like a watered-down 'Grease' for the Disney generation.

Raw talent erupted when Oyster Lane scratched below the surface at the Pres and CBS. Small children in the packed house, some wearing High School Musical outfits delivered by a very tuned-in Santa at Christmas, marvelled at how fifth year student Jack O'Carroll resembled his characted Troy Bolton in the original movie. And he could sing, dance and act as well.

Jack's brother Simon was a comic star turn. He played zany announcer Jack Scott with all the skill and timing of a young Jim Carrey. Bronagh Gately (Gabriella Montez), Grace Cowman ( Sharpay Evans) and Andrew Kavanagh ( Ryan Evans) made their lead roles their own, with the confidence and ability of seasoned pros.

The show's two ' adults' hit the mark as well. Fr. Brian Whelan's Coach Bolton was scarily convincing, possibly bolstered by the presence of the 'boss' Bishop Denis in the audience. CBS music and geography teacher Niele Kavanagh had no problem stepping into the shoes of high school teacher Ms Darbus, though her real-life students must have prayed that she stepped back out of character on her return to the day job.

But this was a stunning team effort, from 13-year-old Megan Boyle (a great Kelsi Neilson), still just a first year student, to the drumskin-tight musicians and pit singers under Patrick Clancy and Eanna McKenna who kept the wheels oiled and running smoothly right through to the end. Choreographer Paul Doyle and set designer Tony DeBarra pulled off near miracles on the tight stage and the young cast's enthusiasm and hundred per cent effort was a joy to behold.

Some punters wondered why this production could not have been staged at the new Opera House. What a life experience that would have been for a young cast largely unfamiliar with any stage.

It would have been a marvellous setting, to be sure, but the truth is the Pres was the perfect venue, giving us a school within a school and setting the atmosphere from the moment the audience stepped through the door.

One of the after-performance speakers on gala night was Eoin Colfer, now a literary giant in the land of the little people, and a Wexford CBS past pupil.

Chests swelled with Wexford pride as Obama-like, Eoin told of how he first went out into the world thinking every town was similar to Wexford town, bursting with talent just waiting to be unleashed. He quickly discovered that that wasn't the case, that Wexford was and is ' completely unique' in that respect.

Someone should bottle Eoin's positive thinking and ability to make the spirits soar and then spoon-feed it to Brian Cowen. Maybe then the weeks would seem a bit less crappy.

Daily Update Newsletter

Get your lunchtime news fix with the afternoon newsletter. Monday to Friday.

This field is required