Working hard “to keep their head in the game,” Ellison High School theater students expect to be “Fabulous” in this week’s production of “High School Musical 2.”
Ellison’s stage version of the popular second installment of the Disney Channel movie trilogy is set for shows at 7 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Ellison auditorium. Tickets are $5 for students and children and $8 for adults.
Believe it or not, it was 13 years ago that “High School Musical” debuted and just a year later the sequel followed – when today’s high school students were too young to understand it.
They’ve seen the movies now and the 43-member cast and crew are excited to share their version of the musical.
With microphone in place for dress rehearsal Wednesday, Ellison junior Austin Kraft, playing the part of Troy said he and his peers were ready for curtain time. Unable to resist, he said, “we’re keeping our head in the game.”
“High School Musical 2” follows the East High Wildcats from the last minute of the school year into the summer break and jobs at the pool, restaurant and golf course of Lava Springs Country Club, owned by the family of twins Sharpay and Ryan Evans.
High school basketball star Troy Bolton and his girlfriend and academic star Gabriella Montez lead their friends in work settings that tend to turn into venues for song and dance.
While Sharpay vies for Troy’s attention, the audience can enjoy the teenagers’ relationship tensions and the moments of soul searching.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said Kraft. “It’s super happy and exciting and energetic. There are not a lot of downers in this show.”
Senior Abby Cherizard, playing the part of Sharpay said her friends told her she would be perfect for the role, though she was quick to point out that she does care about others in real life.
She acknowledged that her real personality is on the carefree side and that she enjoys channeling the high school diva who demands all things “fabulous,” as one of her songs makes clear.
“It’s exciting,” Cherizard said of bringing the high school classic to life. “It’s the same storyline, but the stage is different and we connect to the audience differently.”
Ellison sophomore Janelle Cantrell has the part of Gabriella Montez. “It’s really fun,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to be Gabriella. She is positive and wants to make the most of summer.”
One of the benefits of producing High School Musical 2, said Ellison theater director Hayley Dugger, is its ensemble cast, featuring a large group of secondary characters that allow lots of talented students to act in lead roles and get into the song and dance.
Ellison sophomore Cameron Caple plays the role of Ryan Evans, the talented twin of Sharpay who still suffers in his sister’s considerably broad shadow. He said he could relate to the character, who eventually is able to speak up and stand up for himself.
“I put my own twist on the character,” said Caple, echoing what many of his peers said about playing the roles of characters well known to their peers.
“I like the show,” he said. “It’s not at all like high school. It’s really fun.”
“It’s really fun,” agreed senior Alannah McAdoo, playing the part of Taylor. “A lot of us grew up on it. It’s a big part of our childhood, a classic story.”
Ellison sophomore Brianne Gaines, the show’s stage manager, oversees the considerable collection of sets. “I think it’s going to be really good,” she said. “Reading the script gave me memories of childhood. It’s about friendship and togetherness.”
Moving into four big shows, the Ellison cast expressed confidence – they are all in this together.