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February 22, 2008

Disney at Baltimore's Hippodrome

Roy Meachum

There's nothing like Oscars night. The whole world fixes on what was for years America's favorite entertainment form. Arrived at Baltimore's Hippodrome Theatre is the champion of the new favorite. And network television is no longer the movies' chief competition.

"Breaking Free" in Disney's HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL National Tour. 2007, Disney. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus.

Monday Night Football aside, "High School Musical II" racked up the largest audience in cable television's history. The first version of a chapter in the lives of high school students drew such numbers that the Disney folks decided to try again.

For the area's slice of those nearly eight million viewers, the show that opened Tuesday night offers a chance to see their favorite characters live. Newcomers will discover a fast-paced musical rollicking through the formula story about boy-meets-girl and boy-almost-loses-girl. There are no surprises.

The audience that flocked through the Hippodrome's doors knew what they were in for; many of the younger ticket-buyers dressed in costumes or baubles for the occasion. To say a good time was had by all understates the reaction. Everybody at least those under 30 rocked and rolled with some of the coolest choreography I've ever seen. The songs were bopped out by a cast that never missed a note.

(L to R) Bobby List as "Ryan Evans" and Chandra Lee Schwartz as "Sharpay Evans" in Disney's HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL National Tour. 2007, Disney. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

And that is "High School Musical's" real secret: kids enjoying themselves all over the place. Moving your eyes reluctantly from the center-stage excitement, you can see they all seem to be having the times of their young lives.

Readers know the classic question: How can the folks out-front like what they see if the people on-stage don't like what they're doing? From the opening curtain to the last final bow, it's obvious these people are having the blast! As Southerners can say: The story and the details "make no never mind."

For responsible parents, it should be pointed out that Disney does not turn out objectionable material.

Grab your kids of all ages and head to Baltimore. Week-nights are your best bets. But, by all means, get to the Hippodrome before the first Sunday in March. That's when all the wonderful people and their great stage magic move along to enchant another town.

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