Legacy Theatre presents “High School Musical 2”

Tue, 07/07/2009 - 2:16pm
By: Michael Boylan

High School Musical 2

The rule for sequels is to be bigger than the original. The musical numbers have to be larger, with more dancers performing difficult moves while singing songs that show off more range. All of this must be done while continuing to present the beloved characters in a tale that is still interesting and feels true to the overall story. The cast of Legacy Theatre’s production all agree that “High School Musical 2” is a big show and choreographer Bethany Hayes Smith feels that the cast and crew have accomplished their mission.

“This is the largest professional cast we’ve ever had at Legacy,” said Hayes-Smith, discussing the 24 professional actors who will take the stage when the show opens this week. “We also have three youth casts in supplemental roles and each will do a week of shows.”

Three cast members from Legacy’s production of “High School Musical” are back reprising their roles in the sequel (Haley Godwin as Gabriella, Courtney Godwin as Sharpay and Chase Todd as Ryan), but several other cast members were found from a number of wide ranging auditions that Legacy Theatre went on to cast the show. Hayes-Smith and her husband, Mark Smith, attended several conferences and auditioned thousands of actors for the show. The musical director for the show asked them to hold auditions at Ball State University, where she is a professor, and five people from that audition were cast. The out of town actors in “High School Musical 2” are staying with the Smiths for the six weeks the show is being rehearsed and run.

“High School Musical 2” starts with the gang from “High School Musical” getting ready for summer vacation. The action revolves around Lava Springs Country Club and a talent show. What will Sharpay do to win? Will Troy perform? If you’ve seen the movie on Disney, you don’t know the whole story. Hayes-Smith stated that like the theatrical production of “High School Musical” there are differences with more stories between the characters and some additional musical numbers.

“I love the energy of the show and the message about being true to one’s self,” said Brad Southards, who plays Troy, adding that the message of being all in this together is true for the cast both on and off the stage.

“ ‘High School Musical’ is like the ‘Grease’ of our generation,” said Brandon Arnold, who plays Chad in the production. “It has the power to bring boys back into the arts and arts into the mainstream.”

The cast raved about the music in the show, which features a variety of styles including rock, beach, swing, gospel and hip-hop. They have also enjoyed Hayes-Smith’s challenging choreography. All of the cast members agreed that the biggest challenge in a production like this is stamina because they are singing and dancing almost non-stop.

One of the interesting aspects of a summer show at Legacy Theatre is incorporating local youth into the production. The experience the kids get working with professional actors is a rare opportunity and Hayes- Smith sees their performance level go up when they move on to the main stage to work with the pros.

“They realize very quickly what it takes to do it and that the professionals are expected to excel each time,” said Hayes-Smith. There is one more camp opportunity for local children to participate in. The camp that runs the week of July 20 will culminate in a pre-show performance of numbers from “High School Musical 3.” Interested parties should contact the theater at 404-895-1473 or www.thelegacytheatre.org

Although high school is in the title of the show, everyone associated with the show wants to make it clear that it is not just a show for kids. Hayes- Smith found that adults were surprised by the talent level in Legacy’s production of “High School Musical” and she did not hesitate when stating that the talent level from top to bottom in this production is even better.

“We’re excited to take on something like this,” said Hayes-Smith. “It’s just a good song and dance musical, high energy from beginning to end.”

Show times for “High School Musical 2” are Wednesday through Saturday nights, July 10-Aug. 2 at 7:30 p.m. with Saturday and Sunday matinees at 3 p.m. Tickets are $25 for adults, $22 for seniors or students and $15 for children ages 12 and under. Phone 404-895-1473 or visit www.thelegacytheatre.org to purchase tickets.

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