Adryan Henderson, 4, of Schenectady was perched in her lawn chair, swinging her legs back and forth, anxiously awaiting the start of Park Playhouse’s “High School Musical” on Wednesday. “I like all the songs,” she said. “I’m going to sing, but I don’t know all of them.”
Adryan was brought to the show by her mother, Tracy Carey. “It’s a mommy and me outing,” she said. “We like to get out and do things. She loves “High School Musical” and Park Playhouse is free. I’m a single mom and it’s just a fun thing for us to do.”
Park Playhouse in Albany’s Washington Park, is in its 21st season of what they call “free theater under the stars.” This year’s selection, “High School Musical,” a stage adaptation of the successful Disney Channel franchise of films, drew a crowd of all ages from 4-year-old Adryan to teenagers who looked slightly embarrassed to be there, until the show started and everyone began singing along.
The show was almost spot on when compared to the made-for-TV movie, and the same underlying message was showcased: Don’t be afraid to be yourself.
It was a message that the two main characters, Troy and Gabriella, brought through to the audience by singing the line “don’t stick to the status quo” to their onstage classmates.
In Disney’s “High School Musical,” it’s entirely possible to be a basketball star or a “brainiac” and also a “thespian” as well.
The crowd seemed to enjoy it, rising to their feet in applause as the first act ended and then rushed to the stage to get their programs signed by their favorite characters.
The cast also did a bonus musical number during intermission set to the tune of one of the musical’s songs, “What I’ve Been Looking For,” only they changed the words in a crafty yet humorous way to ask the audience for donations to help keep Park Playhouse free summer after summer.
Gwen Purcell brought her family to the show all the way from East Berne and said the show was a fun time and definitely worth the drive. “It’s our first time here and we love it,” she said.
Katie Miller, a 17-year-old Albany High student, has volunteered with Park Playhouse for the past four summers and said that despite the recent wet weather “High School Musical” has drawn big crowds, even more than previous seasons.
“We’ve been rained out like three times already but ‘High School Musical’ is big. It’s been crowded every night so far,” she said as she carried around her white bucket for donations.
“It’s just fun,” said Carey. “It’s a great opportunity for us to get out and do something fun and not have to spend a lot of money.”
The Hunts, from Colonie, come to the Playhouse every year. “Park Playhouse is a great asset to the region,” Victoria Hunt said.
Adults loved Wednesday’s performance for the free, quality entertainment and the kids loved it because they get to see their favorite Disney characters up close and personal.
Megan Hunt likes Gabriella, but her friend, Alaysia Frazier, visiting from New York City, has a different opinion. “I like Taylor because she’s smart,” she said.
Though opinions varied, Gabriella seemed to have the most fans in the crowd. When asked why everyone likes Gabriella so much, Adryan said, “because she’s pretty and nice.”
“High School Musical” runs through Aug. 23 with shows at 8 p.m. daily.