Everyone has a story to tell. For Hickory Creek Middle School students, it just so happens their adaptation of Disney’s “High School Musical” tells stories that highlight individual differences and talents.
It’s part why the choral department at Hickory Creek chose it as its spring musical, presented May 19-21. “High School Musical” tells the story of the cliques students associate with and the ‘hidden talents’ and interests they seek to show and tell.
“This story is very relevant,” said Cindy Heath, assistant director for Hickory Creek’s spring production, noting that it’s all about kids and the clicks they form connecting skaters with skaters, basketball players with basketball players, and thespians with thespians. “By the end of the play, they’re all friends to be part of the musical.”
Heath said they’ve heard from former Hickory Creek students who were planning to return to their alma mater to see the production of the musical they grew up loving.
“People asked us to do it for many years,” she said.
Heath stressed that Hickory Creek prides itself on providing a professional-looking production.
“We push our kids to do full Broadway versions of any show we do,” she said. “[It’s] a lot of hard work by the students. They’re dedicated to learning and practicing. The other thing that helps is we have a tremendous parent base to build sets, paint the sets, doing make-up and costumes.”
Eighth-grade student Kaitlyn Lee played antagonist Sharpay Evans in the two Saturday shows, and said she enjoyed portraying her role on stage. Sharpay, originally played by Ashley Tisdale in the Disney movie, is the co-president of the high school’s drama club with a mean girl persona who dreams of a career in acting.
“Everyone says that I’m like her, but I’m not really sure,” she said. “It’s kind of like I’m blonde and that’s it.”
Eighth-grade student Spencer Hendren played Sharpay’s twin brother, Ryan Evans, in the same shows and said it was great being able to take to the stage.
Hendren said he tried to bring comedy to the role, originally played by Lucas Grabeel.
Eighth-grade student Clark Anderson, who portrayed the role of the male lead Troy Bolton that same day, said the comedic aspect came naturally to Hendren.
“I kind of liked being the buffoon of the bunch—kind of being the clown,” he said. “I just thought it was kind of a funny, comedic role.”
Anderson said while he has a few traits in common with Troy—a varsity jock played by Zac Efron—he’s not quite as skilled at basketball.
“I made one [shot,]” he said. “I was pretty happy about that.”
Performing in front of a live audience was not a first for any of the three.
“It’s way different from like video,” Lee said. “Having a responsive audience is so great. It just like gives you energy.”
“It’s really cool to perform in front of a live audience,” he said. “We’ve all just spent so much time working on this… It is really nice to show people how much effort and work we put into this and the result of what has happened.
The show had an estimated 80 students backstage, with guidance provided by a number of parent volunteers.
“Not only do they learn musical skills, but teamwork and cooperation,” Heath said. “They form wonderful friendships. They’re very accepting of one another. They help each other with lines and dance steps. It’s touching to see older students helping younger students. It’s a wonderful character-builder.”