Nearly half the senior class at Elkin High School has chosen to take part in this year’s senior play, “High School Musical,” which will take the stage of Dixon Auditorium to times this weekend.
The stage production was created based on the Disney Channel’s hit movie musical, and involves lead roles Troy, a stereotypical athlete, and Gabriella, a stereotypical intellect, who end up at the same high school and defy the idea of cliques by auditioning for the high school play.
“They learn that music unifies everyone and don’t let society tell you what’s OK, find strength in becoming unique and staying true to who we are as opposed to what society says we should be,” said Director Tonya Smith. “It teaches them how to be accepting of others and being inclusive instead of exclusive.”
Elkin senior Maddie Barron said all the seniors had a viewing of “High School Musical” before the auditions and work on the production began. Anyone who wanted to participate was welcome. “Everyone has a role, whether it is in sets or as extra parts,” she said.
With her first theater experience being in the fall in “A Christmas Carol,” Barron said every time a production is put on there is something new to learn.
“I think it has gone really well so far,” she said. “I’m really excited for it. There is good acting, and I’m excited for Troy and Gabriella, they are really cute.”
The play is giving students the opportunity to find a new part of themselves. “I play Martha Cox, and I break out from my nerd shell and tell everyone I love to dance. It is completely the opposite of my personality,” said Palmer Duncan.
While she has sung in choir and chamber groups for years, Duncan said she’s never sung a solo before the “High School Musical” production. “It’s my first time singing in front of a group of people alone,” she said.
Her favorite part of being involved in the play is “the sense of family we all get when we get up there. Despite different likings outside of the play, we come together and give it 110 percent. We kind of become one on stage,” said Duncan.
She has been involved in the arts since she was young, “but this is a different ball game, no pun intended,” she said of the musical, which involves Troy being the star of the school’s basketball team.
“This is my first musical, but I’ve done other school plays in the past,” said Madison Shoemaker, who portrays lead character Gabriella. “I personally love the music, so I think it’s been fun and different. It’s different to see everyone in their different talents.
“I’m looking forward to everyone coming alive and fulfilling their role,” she said of the difference in rehearsals and the performances this weekend. “That’s when it all happens.”
She said the audience should enjoy the show since many people know the story of “High School Musical” from it being on Disney Channel. “They’ll enjoy seeing the characters they know,” Shoemaker added.
This will be Hunter Norris’ second senior play, since he was in last year’s play due to a shortfall of performers. Norris portrays star athlete and lead character Troy.
“I’ve always sung and played music, so I thought it would be fun,” Norris said of his participation. “I don’t have many lines to remember, but I have a bunch of songs.”
He said the audience will appreciate “the way we sing and dance the songs as a unit, it looks well put together and organized.”
“All the directors are really proud of the work the students have done and their dedication during the season,” said Smith.
Sarah Estrada and Trish Long are co-directors; and the production was assisted by other staff in school, as well as the art department taught by Adam Beshears and the project management class taught by Beth Felts. “They have helped us tremendously,” Smith said.
The production will be presented Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and again Sunday at 2:30 p.m. in Dixon Auditorium at Elkin High School. Admission is $8 at the door, and $5 for students.
The cast and crew for the production includes Hunter Norris, Austin Coley, Madison Shoemaker, Anna Taylor, A.J. Mantero, Tyler Eaton, Tyler Cockerham, Ally Gentry, Zach Rhyne, Cayla Leonard, Hardin Walker, Maddie Barron, Julie Neumark, Nate Heiner, Palmer Duncan, Gigi Kakouras, Jillian Lewis, Josie Dumas, Kenzi Sasser, Brooke Bartley, Ethan Mastin, Kennedy Freeman, Georgia Longworth, Kirstan Beaver, McKenna Major, Grace Hanson, Carolyn Blackburn, Elizabeth Roten, Clint Henderson, Jonah Christian, Hunter Simmons, Matthew Waddell, Trevor Nance, Lee Cudd, Calvin Pardue, Kenly Burchette, Reid Turner, Cassidy Cook, Hannah Brown, Andrew Darnell, Brendon Spencer, Blake Gentry, Joshua Gonzalez, Kendall Freeman and Cody Martin. Photographers are MacKenzie Tilley and Tristan Grubbs.
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.