LINDSAY — The beloved characters of Disney’s High School Musical, including Troy, Gabriella, Sharpay, Ryan, Chad, and Taylor are just a few of the personalities being portrayed starting Friday at Lindsay Community Theater. The fully-licensed, two-hour production will run for six shows starting Friday — complete with a lot of choreography, and plenty of the loved HSM songs.
In all, 25 local and area teens, ages 13 to 19, have been cast.
“We had 35 teens audition. It is one of the few times I was not able to cast all who auditioned,” said Alli Smith, director of the show and president of the LCT Board. “The kids are excited. They have been working really hard. This is a quality show.”
One third of the teens are from Lindsay, she said, with the others coming in from Strathmore, Porterville, Springville, Tulare, and one from the Exeter-Visalia outskirts area.
“A great thing about working with teens is how they pick up fast,” Smith said referring to how promptly they learned their lines and adopted to their character. “The teens are here because they want to do this. They are making a choice and they care about their individual performance as well as taking care of each other, supporting each other and respecting each other. It’s a really good group.”
Playing the part of Gabriella is 17-year-old Hailey Rangel, a senior at Lindsay High School. She's not new to performances as she has played in LHS productions of Bubble Boy and Clue.
“I didn’t grow up with Disney when I was young,” Rangel said. “Two years ago I watched High School Musical for the first time.”
And since then, she’s been a fan, she said.
During the audition, they disclosed whether they wanted a “lead, side lead, or any role” she said, and could sing alone or as a duo.
It was “really hard” assigning the characters to the young actors because they were all talented, said Smith.
“They had great voices and great stage presence,” Smith said. “Those are good problems to have. Half are returning and half are new to Lindsay Community Theater.”
Rangel, one of the “new to LCT” teens, said she indicated she wanted a lead and opted to sing HSM’s “Breaking Free” alone to showcase her talent, an approximate one-month ago, never really expecting to land a lead.
“I honestly didn’t expect it,” she said. “It was my first time here. I was a bit nervous. I didn’t know anyone. Now I am friends with everyone.”
“Troy” – played by Samuel Edwards, a junior at Harmony Magnet Academy’s Engineering Pathway in Strathmore, said he was familiar with the HSM cast but had not seen the movie until the day before the audition. However, he was no stranger to LCT as he had previously landed the role of Hans in “Frozen Jr.”
Edwards said he also auditioned with “Breaking Free” because it tested his vocal range. But he was originally cast as a different HSM character. He stepped up to “Troy” after his friend said he wanted a lesser role in the production, and Smith asked him if he would like the character of Troy.
Edwards said the choreography and movie concept are fun and it “is super easy to get along with everyone.”
Student Director of HSM Caitlin Plumlee, a junior at Harmony Magnet Academy Performing Arts Pathway, said she has been a regular at LCT since 2018. She also served as a student director in Frozen Jr.
She enjoys working with the cast and said as a student director she's always checking for leadership roles in the productions, and during full run-throughs offers notes on acting and enjoys offering acting exercises — “Character Hot Seat” — to the youth to get them closer to the character they're portraying.
“I want them to get to know their character in a more intimate way,” she said. “I also have the opportunity to block one of the scenes. Blocking a scene is also known as staging a scene.”
Plumlee said she loves everyone there — on stage and backstage, and loves the way they all accept each other and care about what happens at rehearsals and outside of the theater.
Assistant Choreographer Macy McCoy, is also a junior at Harmony Magnet Academy and has been involved in community theater since third grade at LCT and at the Barn Theater in Porterville. She has also been in dance since age 3 or 4, she said.
“Many here have never done dance before,” she said. “I’m helping kids who were struggling with the choreography.”
McCoy said she choreographed two of the HSM dances and helps with all the rest.
“I’ve been a High School Musical fan since eighth grade,” she said. “And always, (whenever she was) at shows (performances) I would have the cast ‘huddle up’ and with hands together in the center, would shout out ‘WILDCATS,’” she said, as her way to commemorate solidarity with the team.
LCT Director Smith said she usually picks the production on her own and tries to pick something that's fun to Lindsay, but the HSM production was based on popular demand by teens. And after presenting the idea to the board, it was approved.
“It’s about teens as they figure out how to fit in,” Smith said as she talked about why the movie is still so popular. “The kids are excited.”
Those attending will also have an opportunity to sing along to a medley of HSM favorites following the final bows of the evening’s Curtain Call.
The production is choreographed by CaryAlexis Turner, a long-time teacher’s dance assistant at Deenie’s Dance Workshop in Porterville.
“This production is more energetic, has a bigger ensemble, and a different tone — happiness,” Smith said. “It’s a really good group.”
Teens often get a bad rap, she said, but the production has been all good with the smart, dedicated and fun group of teenagers.
Smith praised the work and ethics of of the junior director and junior choreography — Plumlee and McCoy — and of the Junior Company Director Jim Kliegl.
Attending the production is a great way to support the arts and is a wonderful endeavor, Smith said.
“The kids have been working really hard,” Smith said. “This is a quality show.”
High School Musical opens on Friday. The show runs at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and at 2 p.m. on Sundays for the next two weekends — specifically, Jan. 20, 21, 27, and 28 at 7:30 p.m. and on Jan. 22 and 29 at 2 p.m.
Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students and are available online at www.lindsaycommunitytheater.com/LCThighschool.html and at the door.