More than 100 seventh-graders are getting into the act to present High School Musical, the teen/romantic comedy musical that began as a Disney film.
“We’ll have three different casts—a different one each night,” says Jennifer Carabetta, seventh-grade theater teacher at McAuliffe and a Stapleton resident. “Including the stagecraft students, nearly 140 kids will participate.”
Carabetta said she chose High School Musical “because these kids grew up watching the movie. They know it and they like the story and characters. The songs are fun, with tons of group ensemble numbers, so lots of students are onstage.”
High School Musical, released in 2006, became the Disney Channel’s most successful film. A modern adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, High School Musical is a story about two high school juniors from rival cliques who try out for the lead parts in their high school musical, and as a result, divide the school.
“It’s fresh, surprising and fun, with familiar songs and great dancing,” Carabetta said.
She said approximately 20 productions of High School Musical are being presented across the country this year, mostly by high schools. “Musically, it is a tougher show than I originally thought, with overlapping melodies and tricky entrances. The characters must dance and also move sets while singing. It would be tough for anybody, not just a 12-year-old. But the kids are getting the hang of it. We have some great talent and they work hard.”
Max Brown, 13, plays Chad, a basketball player. “It’s easy to get into the role, though he’s an odd character,” said Brown, a Park Hill resident. “He’s in love with the game of basketball. It’s a blast—drama is our favorite class.”
Ava Quinlan, 12, portrays Sharpay. “She’s the bad guy, with a big personality and a big ego,” said Quinlan, who lives in Stapleton. “It’s fun to play something you aren’t—she’s a jerk to everyone. I like the theme that stereotypes can be broken.”
Stapleton resident Mia Walters, 12, is assistant director. “I like the leadership aspect—helping others and seeing the production develop. High School Musical isn’t just another silly musical. It says you can be in a clique but still do multiple things with other groups. It’s a good life lesson: that we can break down boundaries to become whatever we want to be.”
High School Musical has spawned two sequels. “I’m thinking of producing High School Musical 2 next year,” said Carabetta.
McAuliffe produces four shows each year: a musical for the sixth and seventh grades, and both a play and a musical for the eighth grade.
High School Musical plays at McAuliffe International School, 2540 Holly St., Feb. 23-25 at 6:30pm each night. Tickets are $5 for general admission or $20 for Spotlight Circle seats, which helps with program costs. Tickets are available through mcauliffe.dpsk12.org or at the door.
McAuliffe’s sixth-graders will present The Wonderful Wizard of Oz March 21-24. See mcauliffe.dpsk12.org for more information.