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'Goofy' production goes beyond the cliques

Paul Kane High showcases Disney's High School Musical
0501 PK play file
Paul Kane High School's students will showcase the on-stage version of one of Disney's most popular teen movies on Jan 6 and 7, 2021. FILE PHOTO/St. Albert Gazette

Paul Kane High School drama and music departments are mounting High School Musical on Stage, adapted from one of Disney’s most popular teen movies. Come Jan. 6 and 7, Troy, Gabriella, and the gang from East High are back from vacation and ready to shine at the Arden Theatre stage. 

Yes, it’s a typical teen fluff piece complete with jocks, brainiacs, thespians, and skater dudes. But to director Lisa Whitson, it was necessary for the school’s mental well-being. 

“The past few years have been difficult on everyone, including students. We wanted to choose a show that was light-hearted and goofy. Something that would put a smile on everyone’s face,” said Whitson. 

In a brief synopsis, Troy, a high school jock, and Gabriella, a new smart girl at the school, develop a blossoming relationship. They met on a family vacation and became attracted to each other while singing in a karaoke competition. 

As their friendship grows at school, the duo decides to audition for the school play. Troy is captain of the basketball team, and his decision presents what the players considers a conflict. To keep Troy on the team, they attempt to sabotage his relationship with Gabriella.  

In addition, Sharpay, the school’s current leading lady, feels she’s being pushed aside by a newcomer and uses her power to deceive and thwart Gabriella’s success. 

“The major themes are, discovering who you truly are, where your loyalties lay, and where you want to spend your energy. Just because you don’t fit with a stereotypical clique, doesn’t mean you have less value. Stay true to who you really are,” Whitson said. “These themes relate to kids and adults of any age. Whether you are 15 or 50, it’s never too late to start living life for your true self.” 

According to Disney history, the movie High School Musical was originally presented as a sequel to Grease

“The script starts out by following the plot of Grease very carefully, and you will initially see a lot of similarities. It takes a very different turn by not having the characters' need to change themselves to please others, as Sandy and Danny do in Grease.” 

Several Paul Kane actors playing major roles are Matteo Sicolo (Troy), Haley Fell (Gabriella), Grace Poeckens (Sharpay), Em Cresswell (Ryan), and Saskia LaPierre (Chad). 

“All of these actors are hardworking students. They take this responsibility so seriously, and they are always prepared and focused at rehearsals. They are also leaders within the cast and support each other to benefit the group.” 

The success of a live production rests on interlocking each actor’s strengths with other cast members similar to the way puzzle pieces form a picture. 

“Grace, in particular, choreographed a few numbers in the show, and did a phenomenal job. Matteo is in Grade 11 and has already proven himself to not only be talented, but also humble and kind. It is easy to trust him in such a large role. Haley is a senior in high school, and beyond her role, is also the assistant music director. She has focus and maturity beyond her years.” 

Music director Daryl Price has assembled a six-piece rock band of Paul Kane student musicians to create that upbeat vibe with catchy songs and high-energy dance routines. 

Led by Cydney Lewis, the program’s new technical director, students have designed and built a stationary platform as well as moving set pieces. 

“Some of our set pieces are more suggestive than literal, attempting to create colour, texture, and hints of the high school classrooms they represent.”  

In closing Whitson said, “It’s been a long two years, and we are excited to bring back the magic of live theatre with a live audience. The show is not too heavy, and will leave you happy and energetic, which is what we all need right now.” 

Tickets are available at Paul Kane High, 12 Cunningham Road. Call 780-459-4405.