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‘High School Musical’ takes center stage

Chief Kanim student Shannon McEldowney strikes a pose during a recent rehearsal of “High School Musical.” Show director Laurie Hancock said the school’s adaptation of the popular Disney film is upbeat “with very few down moments.” - Denise Miller / Snoqualmie Valley Record
Chief Kanim student Shannon McEldowney strikes a pose during a recent rehearsal of “High School Musical.” Show director Laurie Hancock said the school’s adaptation of the popular Disney film is upbeat “with very few down moments.”
— image credit: Denise Miller / Snoqualmie Valley Record

‘High School Musical’

Where: Chief Kanim Middle School, 32627 S.E. Redmond-Fall City Rd., Fall City

When: 7 p.m. May 29, 30, 31, June 6, 7

Tickets: On sale in school office

Cost: $8 each, or $50 for 8 tickets

Can’t get enough of Troy, Gabriella and the rest of the East High gang? No problem, because Chief Kanim Middle School will stage its version of “High School Musical,” the wildly popular Disney film, this weekend and next.

The story features two high school juniors: brainy transfer student Gabriella, and basketball team captain Troy. Defying stereotypes and school hierarchy, the pair discover their passion for the stage — and their feelings for each other — as they audition for their high school musical. Troy and Gabriella resist peer pressure and clique rivalry as other students try to sabotage their thespian dreams.

Show director Laurie Hancock said she picked “High School Musical” for her Chief Kanim directing debut in part because of its message.

“It’s about following your heart, and not listening only to what your friends think about what you should do. It’s a great message for this age, and for the time that we live in right now,” she said. “Kids are having to decide early that they want to do this thing, or that thing. It’s nice to think that you always have a choice in life.”

Hancock also wanted to mix things up after last year’s production of “The Sound of Music.”

“It’s fun to do a modern show if you’ve done a historical show like ‘The Sound of Music,’” she said. “I love the energy. It’s really upbeat. There’s very few down moments.”

The director liked that the middle schoolers could play roles close to their own age.

“A lot of musicals, of course, are written for adults, so when kids do them, it’s very cute and charming, but I love them being able to play high school kids. It’s not as much of a stretch.”

About 75 students signed up for the musical in February; a third have left the cast due to the vigorous rehearsal schedule.

“Expectations are very high, so as the show has gone along, some have dropped for different commitments that they wanted to have as a priority,” Hancock said.

Because of Hancock’s no-cut policy, anyone who wanted to participate was invited to join the ensemble.

Lead roles required an audition. Emerging as stars were eighth graders Mackenzie Bradburn, who plays Gabriella, and Dylan Shoup, who plays Troy.

“They also sing in choir, so I was very familiar with their voices,” said Hancock, who teaches choir before school. “And they’re both excellent actors.”

Other standouts include the seventh graders who play the show’s antagonists: Arianna Chriest as Sharpay, and Kellan McCann as Ryan.

“Ryan and Sharpay are two flashy characters. I really loved what they did at auditions, and I was wondering, how did they get this great chemistry? Well, they’ve actually been best friends for years,” Hancock said.

Bradburn said close new friendships have been formed during the long hours of rehearsals.

“We’ve formed a family because we get to spend so much time together. It’s so much more than just a play,” she said.

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