We’re All in This Together!

May 22, 2024 at 12:09 PM

You’d be hard-pressed to find a teen or young adult in New Zealand who didn’t grow up on Disney. Depending on the generation, some might recount the hidden identity of Hannah Montana, or dream of living in a hotel like in The Suite Life of Zack and Cody. However, High School Musical, one of Disney’s greatest movie successes, captured an entire generation with its catchy music, lovable cast, and familiar story. 

When the College Middle School announced it would be performing High School Musical JR for the 2024 production season, the buzz and anticipation amongst students reached an all-time high. Preparation flew by despite the many hours and rehearsals, and by the time opening night arrived, the cast and crew were raring to go.

Over several nights, the Year 7 to 10 students delivered a production that not only showcased their exceptional talents but also evoked nostalgia in many audience members, bringing them back to the days of begging their parents to let them watch Disney after school. The dynamic direction by George Everts and Lauryn Edmonds ensured the show was a memorable spectacle, leaving audiences sentimental.

Behind the scenes, a remarkable crew brought the production to life. Producer Sara Standring ensured that every aspect of the process ran smoothly, while Musical Director Lea Anae and Choreographer Morgan Heron added layers of musical and energy through movement – who could forget the iconic dance break in “We’re All in This Together?” Technical Director Glen Mortensen’s expertise in stage, sound, and lighting created an immersive and visually stunning experience that transported the audience right to the steps of East High.

The cast delivered standout performances that brought their characters to life with flair and authenticity. Annan Chai-Rodgers shone as Troy, capturing his character’s charm, while Trista Tian’s portrayal of Gabriella was endearing. The duo of Grace Paik as Sharpay and Oliver Bennett as Ryan mixed the perfect blend of humour and ambition, a hard balance and high bar to meet as some of the screen’s favourite siblings. As the characters navigated their cliques in high school life, broke through stereotypes, pursued passions, and found ways to work together, each person in the audience could relate to one or more of the characters’ experiences. It truly was a cast-driven performance.

Friendship, self-discovery, and acceptance were integral to the narrative, themes that each actor explored and conveyed with authenticity. As the final curtain fell, the applause was a celebration of the hard work and dedication of everyone involved, recognising the creation of something truly special.

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