Every other winter, Orangelight Productions hosts a winter musical with thespians from both Olentangy Orange and Olentangy Berkshire Middle Schools. This year, drama teachers Amy Reza and Jeffrey Whiteside, from Orange and Berkshire respectively, will direct one such musical along with OOHS theatre director Cathy Swain-Abrams with the help of various high school mentors.
However, there is a twist this year: the middle school musical will be “High School Musical. Jr.” Middle school thespians will get the chance to perform the stage version of the well-loved 2006 TV movie musical about friendship and love at the intersection of high school cliques. Classic songs such as “Getcha Head in the Game,” “Stick to the Status Quo,” and “We’re All in This Together” will be included in the stage version, as well as one or two other songs that help the musical flow better on the stage.
After the Oct. 13th announcement, both high schoolers and middle schoolers were excited(and disappointed) for different reasons.
Naturally, middle schoolers were ecstatic about the opportunity to perform this show. “With any age group there is something mystical about portraying characters that are older than you,” Swain-Abrams said.
Seventh grader at OBMS Jessica Mallett, who hoped to snag the role of Gabriella, was surprised yet happy that “High School Musical” was picked. “I thought they would have done something not as popular; I am very excited to hopefully get the experience and I love the “High School Musical” movies,” Mallett said.
Meanwhile, many high schoolers were disappointed that they would not have the chance to perform the show themselves; “High School Musical” has been a longtime dream show for many students and they felt that the movies were a bigger part of their childhood than younger generations, who might see it as more of a throwback.
However, Swain-Abrams never wanted to do that show with older thespians “I wanted different material than that,” she said. “Hopefully they can experience it themselves because they get to help with the choreography and vocals.”
Junior Sophia Reza will be a mentor for the show and helped kids go through the audition process. Auditions for Orange Middle School took place Nov. 3 and auditions for Berkshire Middle School took place Nov. 6.
“The most popular roles to audition for were Gabriella and Sharpay. There were plenty of hopeful girls who wanted the lead roles,” Reza said.
The audition process was simple, albeit stressful, for the middle school students. First, they learned a dance and did a choreography audition. Then, all auditionees picked a character and performed a pre-selected song for that character in front of a panel of judges.
After both audition dates, callbacks were held. Although auditionees pick a character to try out for, they are considered for more characters than just that one. Many times, someone will get cast as a character they didn’t audition for..
Rehearsals start Nov. 28 and the cast will perform Feb. 1, 2, and 3.