‘High School Musical’ comes to life in Parkrose

See why this rockin’ Parkrose High School production of this Disney movie is attracting teenagers, and teens-at-heart, this weekend and next …

In the control booth, show technicians Elliot Darius, Alexis Gonzalez-Perez, and Gavin Stout-Conner are ready for the curtain to go up on the Parkrose High School production of Disney’s High School Musical.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

In many ways, choosing to mount the production of Disney’s High School Musical that opened on November 12 – with a high-energy rock-music-underscored performance – was an ideal selection by Parkrose High School Theater Instructor Tom Cavanaugh.

“We were looking for a contemporary musical play, one to which our students could relate,” Cavanaugh told East Portland News. “Even though they were young kids when it came out in 2006 on The Disney Channel, most of them have seen it – some, several times.”

Shy transfer student Gabriella Montez (played by Sarah Tran) is talked into singing karaoke with the school’s basketball star Troy Bolton (played by Matt Mazon) at a party.

In the hallway, Troy takes some ribbing from his basketball buddies Chad Danforth (played by ony Paez) and Zeke Baylor (Alex Troung).

School radio station DJ Jack Scott (played by Victor Darus) makes wry comments, as well as announcements.

And, Cavanaugh said he thought a play such as High School Musical would attract new and diverse students to the theater program.

Apparently it did appeal to many; auditions for the parts attracted a record number of students, in addition to those who already belong to Parkrose High School Thespian Troupe #1783.

In her classroom, the school’s strict theater teacher Ms. Darbus (played by Amy Fylan) tries to whip up enthusiasm for auditioning for the school’s upcoming musical play.

Hoping to distract Troy, the school’s resident theater diva Sharpay Evans (played by Parris Le) gets, literally, between him and Gabriella.

Student, pianist, and composer Kelsi Nielsen (played by Leah Coyle) seems to be the only one in the school who encourages Gabriella and Troy’s prospects as a singing duo.

About the story
Adults without kids may not be aware of this modern loose adaptation of the “Romeo & Juliet” story; this made-for-television movie has been seen by an estimated 225 million viewers globally. And the High School Musical soundtrack became the best-selling album in the United States in the year it was released.

“This is a story about breaking down barriers,” Cavanaugh summarized the theme of the story. “It’s about choosing to ‘be yourself’, and do the things you actually enjoy, and not what others say you should do when in high school.”

Students Troy and Gabriella are urged to “Stick to the Status Quo”.

As High School Musical unfolds, two high school juniors from rival cliques – sports star Troy, and academics team math whiz Gabriella – meet and decide to try out for the lead parts in their high school musical.

This rift divides the school – both among students and teachers. In one of the numbers, Troy and Gabriella are urged to “Stick to the Status Quo”. The duo fights off peer pressure and enmity, and inspires others along the way. At the same time, high school diva Sharpay tries to sabotage their friendship, and herself be selected as the lead player in the school musical.

Members of rival cliques hatch a plan to rip apart Troy and Gabriella’s nascent relationship.

While the “brainiacs” compete in their school’s “scholastic decathlon” and the “big game” plays, a confident Ryan Evans (played by Kai Fiser) and his sister Sharpay audition for the school’s musical.

  • Will Troy be so distracted by Gabriella and his secret passion for singing that he can’t “Get’cha Head in the Game”, as a musical number suggests?
  • What will they do, when Gabriella finds out their school’s “scholastic decathlon” takes place at the same time as Troy’s “big game” – and the high school musical’s auditions?
  • Although they’re late in arriving, might theater teacher Ms. Darbus allow Troy and Gabriella to audition?
  • Will there be a happy ending, after all?

Come and see and enjoy this snappy and lively production of High School Musical by Parkrose High’s theater and musical departments.

The cast of 58 actors, singers, and dancers learned and rehearsed their parts with the help of Choir Director Lesley Bossert, and Band Director Keija Lee – who conducts the live “pit” rock band for this show. More than a dozen student stage technicians change the sets, and operate the lighting and sound system.

“We’re All in This Together” sings the cast, as the show concludes.

High School Musical, now playing in the Parkrose High Theater. If you missed opening night, this energetic, family-friendly show continues with evening performances at 7:00 p.m. on November 13 and 14, and November 20.

On November 21, the student thespians perform both a matinee show at 2:00 p.m., and their final performance at 7:00 p.m.

Tickets: $7 Adults | $5 Students with ID/Seniors. Tickets are available at the door. The Parkrose High Theater is situated at 12003 NE Shaver Street, 97220-1499. For more information call (503) 408-2621

© 2015 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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