Hi, I'm Morgan! I'm a twenty-something theater critic and writer (which really just means I've been a Theater Kid my whole life but now I'm an adult) based somewhere between Baltimore and Washington DC. 

Hopefully, I can help you discover a new show or the next song that will be stuck in your head for weeks on end.

I've been a theater writer since 2016, and I'm so excited to share my passion for the arts with you! Happy reading!

Welcome to Intermission!

IMG_0600.jpg
Me in front of the harbor that houses the Statue of Liberty in New York City

Can We Take a Moment and Appreciate Kenny Ortega Please?

There is absolutely no denying that this man is a complete genius. For those who don’t know, Kenny Ortega is the brilliant mind behind some of the most successful Disney Channel franchises in recent memory, if not ever (don’t quote me on that because I don’t have exact numbers), with two of the most notable being the “High School Musical” and “Decedents” trilogies. Now, I know there are several opinions about movie musicals, but go with me for a minute. Hear me out.


When the first film in the trilogy was released in 2006, “High School Musical” reached a level of success that absolutely no one expected and became an international phenomenon almost overnight, launching the careers of stars like Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, and Ashley Tisdale. I know third grade me absolutely swooned at my Troy Bolton folder and led “High School Musical” themed karaoke at a friend’s birthday party. What began as a Disney Chanel Original Movie became so popular that the third installment in the trilogy was actually released in theaters, and, according to the “High School Musical 3 Senior Year” IMDb page, made $252,909,177 at the box office worldwide.


Most recently, Ortega created the Netflix series “Julie and the Phantoms,” which has since won several Emmy awards. I mean, come on.


I really can’t speak on the "Descendants" trilogy, other than that it featured a new era of Disney Channel royalty, including Dove Cameron (who has since become a theater queen in her own right) and Cameron Boyce (RIP).


But I think the very fact that I am most familiar with “High School Musical” sends an incredibly powerful message. For each generation of kids that have come along in the last 40 years (yes, I said 40...he was involved in "Pretty in Pink," "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," and "Dirty Dancing"), Ortega has managed to create a musical-based fandom that has reached unprecedented levels of success. A child who may not otherwise be exposed to musicals or the idea of theater suddenly has an accessible, family-friendly Disney Channel movie that they can grab onto. It may not be the same as walking into a Broadway theater, but can anyone deny that a movie musical still has the power to spark that special something that gives us the itch to randomly break into song?


Ortega has managed to light that spark across generations all over the world. Dove Cameron may have gotten her start on Disney Channel, but look at her now. She starred as Cher in the off-Broadway production of “Clueless” and swept the Hollywood Bowl production of “Mamma Mia!” as Sophie. Suddenly all her television fans see her on stage, further expanding their view of theater and what it can be.


“High School Musical” was adapted into a stage musical, for goodness sake. My high school put it on during my junior year, and even with a blizzard on opening weekend, it was still the fastest our show has ever sold out. Not because it’s the most profound or competitive show to put on, but because of what it meant to everyone and that lasting impact it had on the community. I remember our Troy Bolton epitomized the character, as the actor was both a football player and a theater kid himself, proving that although it may be a cliché, theater really does have a place in real life.


So yes, I would like to take a moment and thank Kenny Ortega for the profound impact his work has had and for expanding the idea of what a musical can be. Special thanks to the Instagram For You page for sending me down this rabbit hole.



Feature Photo Credit: Kenny Ortega (center) and the cast of "HighSchool Musical; Gareth Cattermole / Getty Images (Can we acknowledge how very mid-2000s these dresses are? I love it)