Instead of sticking to a clique, high schoolers can learn that we’re all in this together.
That’s the message of “Disney’s High School Musical,” a community production that opens at the Columbian Theatre in Wamego on Friday. It is the stage version of the 2006 Disney Channel movie of the same name. The show, which centers on two students who audition for their first play against their friends’ wishes, tries to show that all people are more than one thing.
“Not only do the main characters realize they can be who they want to be, but the entire school realizes they can be who they want to be,” said show director Ginny Pape.
Pape compared “High School Musical” to a modern day “Grease,” with a few notable differences. While the plots might have some parallels as high school love stories, the shows have different messages, Pape said. “In ‘Grease,’ the whole message is the girl changes everything about herself,” she said. “This show says be yourself.”
Sarah Gayner, who plays brainiac Gabriella Montez, said that over the course of the musical, her character learns to step outside of her boundaries. Gabriella is new to the school and is used to being the geek, Gayner said. The other half of the love story, Troy Bolton, is the star basketball player who has to choose between being the captain his team wants and following his own path to singing.
Aidan Rosenow, one of two actors who will play Troy, said there are parallels between the character’s relationship with performing and with Gabriella.
“He falls in love with singing and also falls in love with Gabriella,” Rosenow said.
Rosenow said his high school experience was quite different from his character’s. He participated some sports, but was more focused on choir. Gayner, on the other hand, did relate to some parts of her character, mostly Gabriella’s initial fear of being in the spotlight.
“When I was in my first play, people had to push me to audition,” Gayner said. “ But as I’ve done more it’s become a lot more fun.”
Opening up to new things and trying new things is something especially young people can learn from “High School Musical,” Rosenow said.
“Even though everyone’s different they can still work together,” he said. “Being yourself will always be better.”
Pape agreed that the musical offers an example of high school kids finding ways to come together whether they’re jocks, brainiacs, thespians or skaters.
“Most of this show is concerned with cliques,” Pape said. “They’re all very separate and the point is we bring all those kids together.”