Jay Glover, a member of the ensemble of “High School Musical” opening today at the Springer Opera House, joked that his own experience in high school prepared him for the musical.
He insisted he and his classmates at Central High School in Phenix City “broke out in musical numbers every day at lunch.”
While its doubtful that choreographed dances are part of everyday cafeteria life, “High School Musical” does mimic the real-life drama created by high school cliques.
The musical is based on the Disney Channel’s made-for-TV movie that became an instant hit when it aired in 2006. It’s about a student-athlete named Troy, who falls in love with “brainiac” Gabriella while auditioning for, you guessed it, a high school musical. The romance helps the couple bring together students from various groups at the school.
The show’s message of tolerance and acceptance is important but not too heavy, according to Alvaro Francisco, who plays Troy. “It’s a fun show,” he promised.
The musical isn’t exactly like the Disney movie. Some characters and some songs are not in the stage version.
“There are some differences,” director Kimberly Hickman said. The CSU graduate has returned to Columbus after working in New York City as assistant director of “The Scottsboro Boys” on Broadway.
Hickman feels the stage version has a deeper impact for young people than the movie.
“Teenagers are going through so much now,” she said. “There’s pressure to look a certain way and act a certain way. I think we tell people that it’s important to accept people’s differences.”
Michael Stiggers, who plays athlete Chad, agreed.
“It’s really got a lot of deeper messages,” Stiggers said. “It’s about being confident with who you are. It’s a great show for theater people because it reminds people that others may judge you, but as long as you are confident, you’ll be fine.”
Stiggers said although the show is tailored toward kids, there are messages for everyone. One theme focuses on parents not pressuring their children so much.
But parents aren’t considered the show’s villains. Brother-and-sister Sharpay and Ryan Evans, played by Kristen Hopkins and Reid Robinson, fill those roles. Trouble arrives when they audition for the same parts as Troy and Gabriella.
Kristen Metcalfe, a CSU graduate, who works at the Springer’s box office, said the show focuses on real-life issues of high school students.
“These are not stereotypes,” Metcalfe said. “These are real people with real problems.”
Stiggers said, “This is not your usual after-school special. This is going to be something special.”