High school nostalgia hits stage



Coach Bolton played by senior Ethan Lenning gives a pep talk to the East High Wildcats during the championship game in North’s Spring production of “High School Musical”. Photo by Nick Powell

Miranda Baez, Staff Reporter

Spring quickly approaching marks the arrival of North’s newest musical performance “High School Musical” which dances across the stage from March 18-20. 

Based on the Disney Channel original movie, the story focuses on Gabriella Montez (sophomore Libby Baumker), East High’s newest student and love interest of Troy Bolton (junior Ross Loftus), captain of the basketball team. Both decide to audition together for the lead roles of the school’s upcoming musical, and when word gets out, controversy sparks due to the duo’s difference in social status. The relationship between them is put to the test when they face other student’s efforts to sabotage their chance of performing in the musical, in fear of the change that would be brought upon breaking out of social norms.

“We wanted to do a lighter, less serious, bit more upbeat and fun show, especially given the stressful impact the pandemic environment has had on all our moods,” director Kit Crawford said. “When choosing a show, there are a couple main considerations: do we have the people who can do the show, and will the audience enjoy it? “High School Musical” is entertaining and not too complicated a show, which after going a couple years without doing a musical, the straightforwardness of it is a plus.”

Actors are looking forward to performing again ever since North’s extracurricular activities were put on hold due to the COVID-19 outbreak in early 2020.

“We actually shut down the school the week we would have opened for [our previous production],” technical director Sean Barber said. “It’s exciting to see students perform again, and to have a large audience.”

Preparations started many months ago with North’s drama department getting involved to produce the show.

“We auditioned the last week of first semester, and we actually started rehearsals the first week we got back,” Barber said. “Once we know the show, we design the set to fulfill the needs of both my vision and Mr. Crawford’s. After we have a design, we start building, and we’ve been building constantly. We’re gonna keep on building until the last day [of production].” 

Assistant musical director Lori Kraus is responsible for posters, playbill design, t-shirts, and ticket sales, as well as managing the production’s costuming work.

The costume crew got together and narrowed in on color choices and time periods to influence the style of each of the different cliques in the show,” Kraus said. “The costume crew developed a PowerPoint for actors to use as inspiration. We then met with each actor and added pieces from the North costume shop if needed. Jock and cheerleader outfits are rented and come about a week before the performance.“

With the large scale of production and Opening Night getting closer, the production of the show is not always smooth sailing according to North’s drama crew.

“The time crunch is probably the hardest part, it gets pretty hectic at times,” Barber said. “March is always a very crazy time, it’s when everything has to come together. We generally get the stage together two weeks before [the show] opens, we have to put the entire set together and get it finalized in those two weeks.”

Despite challenges, cast and crew members are working together and look forward to Opening Night.  Participants are sharing their excitement as production nears its end.

“Theater is pretty tiring,” sophomore Sajdah Anani (Susan Boop) said. “Some days I’ll have to stay at school until 7 p.m. to learn dancing and blocking. You have to work hard so that the musical comes together, but I always try my hardest and try to have a good attitude.”

North’s drama department enjoys the overall process and appreciates the support given from peers.

“I’m in drama at North because it’s the career I want to go into, and [this] is a very warm and welcoming community,” Loftus said.

Sophomore Trey Wilson (ensemble member) concurs.

“I’m excited to perform on stage in such an amazing theater with an incredible cast,” Wilson said.