They are all in this together at Western Arts Theatre for opening night of High School Musical Jnr

Based on the Disney Channel hit, Troy, Gabriella and the students of East High must deal with issues of first love, friends and family while balancing their classes and extracurricular activities.

It’s the first day after winter break at East High. The Jocks, Brainiacs, Thespians and Skater Dudes find their cliques, recount their vacations and look forward to the new year. Basketball team captain and resident jock, Troy, discovers that the brainy Gabriella, a girl he met singing karaoke on his ski trip, has just enrolled at East High. They cause an upheaval when they decide to audition for the high school musical that is being led by Ms Darbus. Although many students resent the threat posed to the “status quo,” Troy and Gabriella’s alliance might just open the door for others to shine as well.

Theatre People spoke to director Sarah Charles in the lead up to opening night about the journey.

This is the start of something new for Charles, who is no stranger to the Western Arts Theatre community, sitting on their committee as well as working on a number of their productions both backstage and on stage. This was a natural progression.I’ve never directed before and I’ve loved the experience. I love working with Western Arts Theatre because I’ve never met a more positive, supportive group of people who are so passionate about what they do.”

And when asked why High School Musical Jnr the answer was simple; “The movie actually premiered on Disney Channel on my 12th birthday and I’ve loved it ever since”.

Charles stated that her biggest challenge directing this piece has been trying to stay true to the storyline and the well known and loved characters while putting her own spin on things.

“We’ve tried to give the characters a bit more substance and depth- while sticking true to the characters people love from the movie. Gabriella, for example, is a much stronger character in our production than she is in the movie.”

While auditioning, the production team were looking for kids who weren’t afraid to take risks, have fun and work hard, and they found a lot of them, making the rehearsal room productive, safe and loud!

“Our cast is made up of 41 incredible kids ranging in age from 8 to 17. Some of them are seasoned performers and some are making their stage debut. The cast are from all areas of Victoria – from Mentone to Lara. But I could not have asked for a better cast. I’ve never seen a junior cast be so cohesive and supportive right from the start. They bonded instantly and have just been a pleasure.”

High School Musical Jnr opens Thursday 11 April 2019 at 7:30 PM and runs until Sunday 14 April 2019 3:30 PM at St Bernard’s Catholic College Theatre
Gate 6, Hampton Rd, Essendon, Victoria 3040

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