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The News & Observer

What keeps these shows hot?

What self-respecting high school would stage something called a " ' Twinkle Town ' musicale," the production Ms. Darbus was casting in "High School Musical"? With a title like that and no plot in sight, the show would last about as long as as slap bracelets and double-zip jeans.

High school theater groups prefer shows with "legs" -- musicals with proven appeal. Here's a list of such shows and why they'll never drop out of high schools.

GREASE! Good girl in bobby socks meets bad boy in leather jacket -- it has a beat, and you can dance to it.

OLIVER! Neglected child escapes his prison, hits the streets and then settles down with a wealthy caretaker -- what kid hasn't dreamed of that?

ANNIE Ditto, but the kid gets a dog, too, and a chance to influence the U.S. domestic policy. Power trip!

FAME, THE MUSICAL Hormones rage, teachers bicker, kids rebel -- plus a setting in a high school for the performing arts. How can it miss?

FOOTLOOSE More hormones and rebels, and kids fighting for the right to dance. So what if the music's hokey?

THE WIZARD OF OZ Flying monkeys, flying witches, flying cows and an authority figure brought down to size. All that and cool red shoes.

YOU'RE A GOOD MAN, CHARLIE BROWN Even the most determinedly aloof teen is powerless against Peanuts.

And, of course, "Guys and Dolls," "Kiss Me, Kate," "Sound of Music," " Oklahoma !"

SO STICK TO THE STATUS QUO

But here are some shows that, even with their New York credentials, usually won't get past the principal.

HAIR If you dress the nude hippies, you're cheating.

URINETOWN It's about more than urine, but the title is a deal-breaker.

OH! CALCUTTA ! Sex, sex, sex -- surely not of interest to teenagers.

BAT BOY -- THE MUSICAL Incest, rape, drugs, and rabbit slaughter at mealtime.

THE FULL MONTY The backlights are supposed to obscure the full frontal nudity. What if ...?

THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS The Triangle has had its share of sex dens, but you won't find them on a high school stage.


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