‘Bop to the Top’ with Disney’s ‘High School Musical’
Vail, CO, Colorado
Maddie Roley plays a “wildcat cheerleader ” full of spirit, accomplishment and pride,” in an upcoming performance of “High School Musical” produced by The Vail Performing Arts Academy. The vivacious actress, along with 80 other kids involved in the upbeat production, just might be living out the fantasy of teens and tweens across the country when the play debuts this weekend.
Though perhaps unknown to most old-timers above the age of 20, “High School Musical” enraptured the nation’s youth in 2006, scoring scads of viewers, selling tons of albums and launching the careers of then-unknown stars like Zac Ephron (“Hairspray”) and Vanessa Hudgens. While definitely mainstream, this musical take on dueling high-school cliques inspires cult-like adoration among a loyal fanbase that can barely drive.
Raquel Walder, a 9-year-old from Dallas, Texas is excited about putting on a show that’s recognized by kids everywhere.
“It’s crazy!” she said. “I like being a part of a show that everyone really knows. I’ve seen it 12 times on TV.”
And believe it or not, 12 times isn’t unheard of. The Disney Channel originally created the show as a made-for-TV movie, but it spawned a huge pre-teen following. The timing for this particular musical is right on ” the sequel “High School Musical 2” will hit the Disney Channel Aug. 17.
One of the lead characters and a community theater regular, Sean Pack said that when people hear the words ‘High School Musical,’ they get excited.
“We’ve all seen the movie. It’s very popular right now. There are lots of different parts, it’s funny, it’s just a great show.”
“We all know all the words from the movie, so that helps,” said Molly Allard, age 17. “Still, I’m amazed at how quickly we learned everything. We changed some stuff from the movie.”
Annah Scully, who has been running the show, is very proud of all the children in her program.
“They’ve been focusing really well,” she said. The younger kids have a hard time, but they’re so focused. The songs are really the hook. It’s still challenging and Colin Meiring, the director, has really high expectations.”
This is Scully’s 11th year putting on the camp-like program.
“This year, the kids have had the most fun they’ve ever had,” she said. “We’ve added more structure and the kids are always busy. The relationships they have with one another are really evident. We’re like one big family and the camaraderie makes the performance that much more tight.”
“This is going to be so much fun!” Pack said. “The audience is going to be in trance once they see 20 basketballs on stage at one and a basketball net being lowering from the ceiling.”
Rehearsals haven’t been all fun and games. With such a large cast, sometimes the kids have a hard time hearing direction.
“There’s so many people here,” Walder said. “It’s hard to concentrate sometimes.”
The kids also run around a lot. They’re learning choreography, songs and lines.
“I was sore the first day after rehearsals,” said Callie Tysdal, a 16-year-old from South Dakota. “But after that, I was fine. The dancing is really fun.”
Another issue the kids have been having is wardrobe related.
“Annah gets paranoid about things that could go wrong,” said Susanna DeChant, 14, who plays another lead, Sharpay. “So I’m not allowed to wear my four-inch heels until the show. That’s sad, but understandable.”
“We’re getting really tired right now,” Tysdal said. “But we won’t be tired when it’s time to perform. It’s going to be awesome!”
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