The White Rock Summer Youth Project graduates with flying colours

Review: High School Musical 2, White Rock Summer Youth Project, The White Rock Theatre, Hastings, August 16-18

It was an absolute pleasure to watch The Summer Youth Project perform ‘High School Musical 2’ at The White Rock Theatre last week. Right from the start of the show there was great confidence and energy flowing. The main characters of the play were very strong, particularly with their singing. But in fact all of the performers were impressive, doing extremely well in the many music scenes, with very dynamic dance moves and rhythm.

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I went to see the musical with Alice, my 11 year old daughter. We had watched the High School Musical films when she was five. For me this production was far more exciting to watch than those earlier films. The production was very successful in going inside the minds of the characters eg in the musical scene “Bet on It”, where Troy’s character (played by Tyler Sargent) sang about his confused feelings, while characters dressed in black, marched in different directions at the back of the stage. Alice and myself also very much enjoyed the Hawaiian-style dance (part of the Midsummer Night’s Talent Show) which was purposefully overdone and had great octopus masks and representations of a volcano. Sharpay (played by Katherine Fry) and Ryan (by Kai Burt) were extremely good in this scene. There is a great range of emotions within the story and the high energy togetherness of musical songs like “All for one”, and much softer romantic songs between Gabriella (Camilla Savill-Lawes) and Troy were all performed equally skilfully.

There was an age range of children from 8 years old to teenagers of 18 years old performing in this production. All of the one hundred children and teenagers in the show are from Hastings and the surrounding areas. The performers only had a week and a half to practice their lines, songs, and dance moves and then performed at The White Rock for 3 nights! The White Rock Theatre brings in professionals from the theatre world to coach and help the performers during this time. This brilliant opportunity provided by The White Rock Theatre gives local children and teenagers a wonderful space to explore their stage skills, confidence, and stretch their personal goals and aspirations.

The A Level results have just come out and teenagers across the UK are thinking about their future. How brilliant that in Hastings we have such inspiring projects for our young people, and also that parents are encouraging their children to participate in things like this. We are very lucky that Hastings is developing such a rich and lively arts arena.