High School Musical is a teen cultural phenomenon, but this spring you can catch a real high school musical at a school campus near you.
High schools aren't messing around when it comes to theater. Rehearsing until 10 p.m., flying in choreographers and technical crew, elaborate sets, intricate dance numbers, and casts of 50 or more are all part of putting on a show.
My school, Greenbrier High, is going tap-happy with Thoroughly Modern Millie this weekend. (Full disclosure: I'm one of two actors playing Jimmy in the production).
The show follows Millie Dillmount as she arrives on the streets of Manhattan circa 1920 on a journey to get rich and become a flapper. She makes friends, tap dances, foils a slave trade ring, belts her heart out, finds love, and learns a thing or two on the way. To accommodate its growing drama program, Greenbrier has double-cast the show.
Augusta Preparatory School goes Footloose in its performance of the stage version of the popular 1984 movie starring Kevin Bacon. The musical illustrates what happens when a teenager from Chicago decides to shake up a town where dancing has been banned. The upper school has cast 50 of its 200 students in the play.
Director Jamie McAteer is flying in a professional lighting designer from Chicago to help the 15 to 20 technical crew of students to light the show.
Evans High School divides into Pink Ladies and T-birds the last weekend in March as it revives the Broadway favorite Grease . The show uses rock 'n' roll to chronicle the happenings at the fictional Rydell High in Chicago in the 1950s.
"We are doing something a little different; we've added a chorus of Chicks, Greasers and a few cheerleaders," said the production director, Carolyn Lee.
In Richmond County, John S. Davidson Fine Arts School has been busy preparing for the Southeastern Theatre Conference, returning as the 2007 champion of the Secondary School Competition.
Davidson's show, Thurber Carnival, won Best Play at the theater conference, the school's second state win in a row, said Betty Walpert, the show's director.
After the conference, Davidson students will focus on their production of Metamorphoses , a play that involves a swimming pool as a set.
Cross Creek High School will premiere High School Musical to the area this spring, with the Creekside Players bringing the popular characters and songs to life. The players hope to raise enough money for their trip to Edinburgh, Scotland, this summer to perform at The Fringe, the world's largest performing arts festival.
Harlem High School, which has sent students to the festival in Scotland, is setting its sights on performing the first musical written by Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II. Oklahoma! ran for 2,212 performances on Broadway after its premiere in 1943. There will be three performances of the musical at the Harlem High Theatre in May. It follows the love story of a cowboy and farm girl set in the frontier of the Oklahoma territory.
So, pause High School Musical 2 and go see a real high school musical this spring.
Michael Ryan is a sophomore at Greenbrier High School.
REAL HIGH SCHOOL MUSICALS
'THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE'
WHERE: Greenbrier High School, 5114 Riverwood Parkway, Evans
WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and March 20-22
Cost: Adults $8, students $5
WHERE: Augusta Preparatory School, 285 Flowing Wells Road, Martinez
WHEN: 7:30 pm. Thursday-Saturday, March 27-29; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 29
Cost: Adults $12, students $10
WHERE: Evans High School, 4550 Cox Road
WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, March 27-29
Cost: Adults $7, students $5
WHERE: John S. Davidson Fine Arts School, 615 12th St., Augusta
WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday, April 3, 3:45 and 7 p.m. Friday, April 4
Where: 615 12th St., Augusta
WHERE: Harlem High School, 1070 Appling-Harlem Road
WHEN: 7 p.m. May 8-9, 3 and 7 p.m. May 10
'HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL'
WHERE: Cross Creek High School, 3855 Old Waynesboro Road
WHEN: Show dates TBA
Greenbrier student Michael Ryan takes us behind the scenes of "Thoroughly Modern Millie"