Review: Disney’s High School Musical – PQA Warwick at Royal Spa Centre, Leamington

Right from the outset, PQA Warwick’s performance of High School Musical brought colour, energy and amazing harmonies. The smallest members of the company (the ‘Poppets’) opened the show with ‘The Wildcat Cheer’ which they gave their all to. The other PQA Warwick cast members soon joined them to perform this stunning opening number, which the audience clearly enjoyed. The energy remained the same throughout the entire performance.

PQA Warwick High School Musical Jr Theatre Programme

There were three energetic performances that took place at the Royal Spa Centre in Leamington Spa. This included PQA (Pauline Quirke Academy) groups from Warwick, Banbury and Stratford-upon-Avon. We were delighted to attend the PQA Warwick performance, which was the first one of a very busy day at the theatre.

PQA Be Yourself Be Amazing
Image courtesy of PQA Warwick

The Story

High School Musical Jr is based on Disney’s popular High School Musical from 2006. People often describe it as a modern day version of Romeo and Juliet. It also bears similarities to Grease but the storyline is more wholesome!

It is a story of boy meets girl – Basketball Star Troy (Noah K) and shy, nerdy Gabriella (Lucinda W) meet on Winter Break and discover they are students at the same school, East High. The couple cause ripples when they both decide to audition for the school musical, even if it means clashing with some of their regular activities like basketball and science competitions! The school cliques that all the students belong to, the Skater Dudes, Jocks, Brainiacs and Thespians are all put out that this threatens the ‘status quo’. Popular girl Sharpay (Grace E) and her twin brother Ryan (Ashley M) are also battling for the lead roles in the school musical and try to sabotage our heroes’ chances!

Of course there’s twists and turns along the way, but everyone manages to take part in their competitions and audition for the play. The winning couple Troy and Gabriella won it on their own merit. However, in my opinion, they also win it for the fact they manage to inspire the entire school to stick to with what their passions are and express their individuality!

The Songs

High School Musical is jam-packed with catchy, upbeat songs. The whole cast delivered these with pizzazz! My personal favourites from the PQA Warwick performance were:

Wildcat Cheer

  • A great way to begin the show and a chance for us to meet the cast for the first time. The young cheerleaders at the beginning were impressive for being so little and really looked the part with their dresses and bunches with ribbons in their hair. The song erupted into a mass of harmonies and energy and really set the tone for the show ahead!

Get’cha Head in the Game

  • Troy and the basketball players (the ‘jocks’) sang whilst dancing with basketballs. They managed to keep the ball rolling around their bodies in a fabulously choreographed routine. I can simply imagine how many times those balls must have been dropped during rehearsals but you would never have guessed it from the smooth, slick performance on the day.

What I’ve Been Looking For

  • This song was sung twice. Once as an audition song by Sharpay & Ryan and then sung as it was meant to be sung by Troy and Gabriella, accompanied by pianist Kelsi. Troy (Noah K) and Gabriella (Lucinda W) sung this beautifully. Gabriella (Lucinda W) has the voice of an angel especially with the high notes and it was a really pleasant song to hear.

Stick to the Status Quo

  • A feast for both eyes and ears. This was the closing song of Act 1 and a feast for our eyes and ears. All cliques of the school are involved in this song – when they find out that Troy & Gabriella are planning to audition for the high school musical and it clashes with their basketball and science events, they are put out. Soon, they start to realise that there is more to life and their individuality. Every single member of the cast put their all into this song and moving about on the stage looked absolutely seamless. I wanted to watch it multiple times as it was difficult picking who to look at during any one time! The song sounded great.

Breaking Free

  • This is perhaps the most well-known song of the show. It is a huge feel-good ballad, and the young actors sang it with passion and skill. I have been humming it ever since we saw the show!
PQA Warwick High School Musical Jr Theatre Performance
Image courtesy of PQA Warwick / David Fawbert Photography

The PQA Warwick Cast

I’ve never seen a production from a youth theatre with as much collective talent as PQA Warwick! Each and every cast member acted out their own individual character with a huge level of professionalism.

The girl who played Sharpay (Grace E) really made you believe her character. It was just the right amount of cattiness and egocentricity! Two of the supporting actresses also put on a five star performance. Chad (Emily C), Troy’s basketball team-mate kept us amused with lots of comical faces and was always switched on to the action. Kelsi (Lili B)’s performance was amazing and very mature beyond her years.

Royal Spa Centre Leamington Spa

We’re all in this together

There are leads, supporting actors and actresses and the ensemble that make up the show, but each and every one of the young company put on a performance that was excellent in its own right. As the song title proved, they can all say that they were in this together! When the closing song, High School Megamix came on, I didn’t want it to end.

We caught up with Debbie Hotten, Principal of PQA Banbury, Warwick and Stratford-upon-Avon who said:

“Once again I am beyond proud of the students and staff at PQA Banbury, Warwick and Stratford-upon-Avon. What an action-packed show weekend, everyone is so committed to ensure the shows are a huge success! With students from the age of 3 right the way to 18 we were ‘all in this together’ providing outstanding musical theatre experiences for all. Each academy achieved top marks distinction in their Trinity performance examinations. Go Wildcats! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”

We all enjoyed this production immensely and cannot wait to see future performances from the talented kids of PQA.

PQA Warwick High School Musical Jr Theatre Performance Cast
Image courtesy of PQA Warwick / David Fawbert Photography

Did you see this show? Does your child enjoy PQA? Let us know by using the comments box below or joining in the conversation on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

(Disclaimer: We purchased tickets for this show ourselves and were not compensated in any way. As we enjoyed the show so much, we thought we’d share this review. For further information on PQA Warwick, please visit the PQA Website or visit them on Facebook.)

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