By Jason Wesseldyk
Dancing while dribbling a basketball is no easy task.
Yet that’s exactly what cast members of Otsego High School’s production of “High School Musical” will do when they bring the Disney Channel movie to life on stage.
The show is slated to run from Wednesday, March 22, through Sunday, March 26, at the Otsego Auditorium and Performing Arts Center. The Wednesday through Saturday performances start at 7 p.m., while the Sunday finale begins at 2 p.m.
Otsego High School vocal music director Meredith Lincoln said “High School Musical” provides a good change of pace from last year’s production of “The Wizard of Oz.”
“We want the musical each year to be a fun but educational experience and we believed ‘High School Musical’ would offer that,” she said. “We want students to be able to learn about musicals each year, and we believed it was a fun change from last year’s classic musical ‘The Wizard of Oz.’”
Premiering on The Disney Channel in 2006, the film version of “High School Musical” was a massive hit for the network that spawned two sequels as well as spin-off movies and TV series.
Lincoln said the stage version is not only fun, but also communicates a positive message.
“This musical incorporates a lot that others don’t,” she said. “For one, basketball. This is such a fun aspect to bring to the stage. There will be huge dance numbers, math, basketball, lots of role opportunities and of course singing and drama.
“But this show also provides a great lesson in growing up. This musical teaches that no matter what clique you are in, you can still branch out and be a part of whatever you would like. It teaches students that they’re not defined by just one title. They can be whatever and whoever they want to do.”
Watching the progress students have made from the first rehearsal to the (nearly) finished product has been a joy for Lincoln.
“One of the many highlights of my career is watching the kids grow not only as actors, but also as humans throughout these three months,” she said “The strides they take in such a short period of time is a huge reward.
“These students not only gain music, dancing and acting experience, but they gain friendships that will last a lifetime. When it all comes together for their first performance, my emotions always are all over the place. I am so incredibly proud of these students that I typically end up crying happy tears.”
Seniors Colin Wesseldyk and Sophia Saunders lead the cast in the roles of Troy Bolton and Gabriella Montez, respectively.
Other cast members include: Harry Loomis as Chad Danforth; Maddie Uramkin as Sharpay Evans; Malachi Bagley as Ryan Evans; Angel Hannapel as Taylor Mckessie; Grifin Jacobs as Zeke Baylor; Hollianne Sheneman as Martha Cox; Tyson Ouellette as Jack Scott; Rebekah Stachura as Kelsi Neilson; India Polingo as Ms. Darbus; and Christopher James as Coach Bolton.
Jocks/Cheerleaders are: Kingston Lennan, Malina Adams, Jordan McKauge, Lauren Firnstahl , Calliah Willover and Maddie Collison.
Performance Art Kids are: Sophie Ruiz, Emma Zimmermann, Piper Carper, Lily Baird, Zoe Smith, Katherine Breedveld and Tori Sparks.
Brainiacs are: Lily Jones, Molly Koppers, Kylee Uramkin, Rori Chapman, Mckenna Wesseldyk and Nanthicha Kulkanjanutorn.
Skater Dudes are: Wybie Burke, Ryan Williams, Lily Baird, Sophia Waite, Trenton Travis and Ameila Sparks.
“This show is for all ages,” Lincoln said. “Everyone from one to 100 will have a good time watching this show. These kids have worked so hard and I cannot wait for them to show off all their hard work.”
Tickets are $15 for adults and $13 for students. They can be purchased at otsegops.tix.com or at the door.
Once again, the cast will put on a sensory performance that is adjusted slightly for those audience members with sound or eyesight sensitivities. That show is opening night on Wednesday, March 22.