SPOTSWOOD, NJ - Mother Nature's surprisingly treacherous early snowfall on Thursday prevented the Memorial Middle School Drama Club's opening night performance of Disney's "High School Musical Junior," forcing a late afternoon cancellation because of dangerous area road conditions. Disappointed, the cast and crew of 57 rebounded with an energetic, spirited performance Friday night that delighted the crowded Spotswood High School Cafetorium.
Directed by Memorial Middle School Music and Band Director Christina Restine and choreographed by Brittany Cohen the musical based on the Disney Channel's blockbuster television movie was a hit. Backed by a live orchestra featuring Restine, retired Spotswood School District Music educator Barbara Cottrell, Benjamin Samuelson, William Macirowski and Dominic Palombi, the numerous ensemble pieces were a toe-tapping treat to watch.
Eighth graders Matt Millroy and Maya Yanchuck were endearing as the lead, star-crossed characters Troy Bolton and Gabriella Montez who battle to break out of their defined cliques to compete for the lead in the school's musical. Fellow eighth grader Hailey Sosnowski was splendidly wicked as misguided Sharpay Evans who would do anything to play the lead in the school's musical. However, it was Caden Dowgin who proved to be the scene-stealer whenever he was on stage. Dowgin portrayed drama teacher Mr. Darbus and was thoroughly entertaining as the passionate English teacher and director of the fictional high school musical. The eighth grader was spot on in his delivery and stage presence, showing his natural theatrical abilities.
Kudos also need to go to seventh grader Camryn Snyder for her portrayal of the winning-obsessed basketball coach. Snyder gave a great performance as driven, "get-your-head-in-the-game" Coach Bolton. A brilliant chorus makes for a divine musical and the jocks, thespians, brainiacs, skaters and students who made up the ensemble cast were simply splendid.
The cast and crew will do one final performance this afternoon at 2 p.m. at the Spotswood High School Cafetorium. Tickets are $6 and are available at the door. Doors open at 1:30 p.m.
Since the cast, crew and teachers have been hard at work since the beginning of the school year and were shortchanged one performance because of Thursday's inclement weather, they will do an abbreviated performance for their Memorial Middle School classmates on November 21. On December 21, they will head over to the Appleby School to perform selections from the musical and lead the second through fifth grade school in its annual holiday sing.
The show was produced by Spotswood High School Communication Arts teacher Dominic Sposato. Restine, Sposato and Cohen are all alumni of Spotswood High School.
"This is the first time the production team for a MMS show are all graduates of this school system, which I think says a lot about the Spotswood community," Restine said. "We all had such a positive experience as students that we want to help ensure the same for the current students."