It seems to be the era of the high school musical again. This show however is in no way related to the other mega-hit franchise. Craig Carnelia (music and lyrics) and Jeffrey Kindley (book)’s Is There Life after High School? originally premiered on Broadway in 1982, when the world must have seemed a much simpler place.
At least that’s the impression that one gets from this very pleasant and generally enjoyable piece of musical theatre which seldom treads on uncomfortable territory (except for a mention of the Vietnam war and a suicide attempt).
The story focuses on nine adults attending a school reunion and reminiscing about their days in the schoolyard, good and bad, the missed opportunities and the lessons that life has taught them.
Nine younger performers play the characters in their school days, more as they are remembered, rather than as they were. Generally this works well, with enough humour and pathos in the show for the audience to identify with. The songs are catchy, although only one, The Kid Inside, became a hit tune for many performers. All performances are strong and vocally up to the challenges of the music.
The weaknesses lie with the staging and directing choices. While the design is simple, it has components such as screens which hang over the performers without serving any purpose. The Chapel space is not large enough for 18 performers to constantly enter and exit without getting in each other’s way, which becomes an annoying distraction. The choreography works well enough, but again, feels cramped in the space.
Ultimately though, Is There Life after High School? remains a fun and worthwhile opportunity to visit the theatre and witness some seasoned performers working alongside a new generation.
Stella Entertainment in association with Melbourne Music Theatre and DTM Smallfry presents
Is There Life after High School?
by Craig Carnelia
Venue: Chapel Off Chapel | 12 Little Chapel St, Prahran (Melways: Map 2L Ref J10)
17 – 23 December 8pm
21 and 23 December 5pm
Matinee 20 December 2pm
Tickets: $36 Full, $28 Concession and Groups 10+, $120 Family of four (+ transaction fee)
Bookings: 03 8290 7000 or www.chapeloffchapel.com.au