Ever since its release in 2006, Disney’s High School Musical has become somewhat of a phenomenon- aimed at “tweens”, a previously untapped audience of young people between the ages of nine and fourteen. It offers a hyperbolic insight into American high schools, complete with cliques, mean girls, and the universal difficulty of growing up while staying true to yourself. The source material raises some issues – the primary one being, of course, that it deals solely in stereotypes, making it difficult to empathise with the main characters. However, the cast of Shoogly Peg takes this in their stride, giving the audience two hours of high-energy dance numbers and catchy songs while emphasising the underlying message of acceptance just as effectively, if not more so, than the original.

While viewed as iconic in the world of children’s films, High School Musical can often stray towards the saccharine, especially during the love ballads between Troy and Gabriella. However, the excellent execution of I Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You by Michael Barker and Eve Flockhart is refreshing and gives depth to characters who were originally designed to remain as nothing more than stereotypes. There are other stand-out members in the cast, too – Jody Stewart and Taylor Clark play the perfect wingmen as Zeke and Chad respectively, while Lori Stott captivates as diva Sharpay.

The most frustrating aspect of this production is that the cast seem to be let down by the technical effects. Wireless microphones turn off randomly, forcing some actors to shout in order to be heard over the backing track, which is often too loud and drowns out well-rehearsed harmonies. The relatively small stage is laid out so that it always feels crowded, detracting from the story line and dialogue. This also leads to problems with getting the large cast on stage quickly enough.

In the words of High School Musical‘s drama teacher herself, ‘timing means everything in the world of theatre.’ It’s a shame that the jarring scene changes slow the tempo of the otherwise quick-paced musical. However, the sheer enthusiasm and talent of the cast is definitely enough to outweigh any technical issues. They effortlessly sing and dance their way through the two hours, leaving the audience with a strange desire to burst into song at random intervals, and a strong nostalgia for those high school glory days.