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Russell Stephens and Anna Laura Bryan who portray Ryan Evans and Sharpay Evans in Dream-Weavers’ version of “High School Musical.”
Daily photos by Gary Cosby Jr.
Russell Stephens and Anna Laura Bryan who portray Ryan Evans and Sharpay Evans in Dream-Weavers’ version of “High School Musical.”

Decatur catches ‘High School Musical’ fever

By Patrice Stewart
pstewart@decaturdaily.com · 340-2446

The Disney movie phenomenon “High School Musical” will bring its message for teens and all ages to a Decatur stage Friday and Saturday.

Disney’s “High School Musical” is based on the popular TV movie of the same title, said Susan Thompson, the Austin High School drama teacher who is directing this production for DreamWeavers Children’s Theatre at the Princess Theatre Center for the Performing Arts.

The students in the show are divided into groups typical of many high schools: Jocks, Thespians, Brainiacs, Cheerleaders, and Skater Dudes and Chicks. The conflict begins when a jock thinks of trying out for the school musical and crossing those invisible lines.

“This stage version is light, fun, energetic and positive,” said Thompson. “It has a great message: be true to who you are, yet be accepting of others, because we’re all in this life together.”

Thompson said the popularity of “High School Musical” is unbelievable.

“It really reminds me a lot of another teen movie from years ago. When ‘Grease’ came out, everyone knew every word and note of every song in the show. It was like a world-wide phenomenon, and I don’t remember many other movies that were that way.

“It seems like we were all obsessed. I still have my ‘Grease’ album and could probably still sing at least 99 percent of the words,” Thompson said, and she thinks this show is the same way.

Parents have been pleased to hear the show is being presented, she said.

“They always tell me that their child knows every word and will be thrilled to come see it,” said the director. “Not only do younger kids love the movie, older ones do, too. Some may say it’s cheesy, but it sure is lots of fun.”

Kathleen O’Hara, Caroline Godwin, Andrew Sybert, Judith Roberts, Anna Laura Bryan and Russell Stephens as the cast of Disney’s “High School Musical” for DreamWeavers Children’s Theatre. Bryan said the musical number “Bop to the Top” will entertain the audience. “It’s an outrageous, crazy number, with a lot of different things going on at the same time.” Show times are Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 2 and 7 p.m. at Princess Theatre Center for the Performing Arts. For more info, please call Bob Wians at 351-1115.
Kathleen O’Hara, Caroline Godwin, Andrew Sybert, Judith Roberts, Anna Laura Bryan and Russell Stephens as the cast of Disney’s “High School Musical” for DreamWeavers Children’s Theatre. Bryan said the musical number “Bop to the Top” will entertain the audience. “It’s an outrageous, crazy number, with a lot of different things going on at the same time.” Show times are Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 2 and 7 p.m. at Princess Theatre Center for the Performing Arts. For more info, please call Bob Wians at 351-1115.
This obsession with the movie is a common occurrence across America right now, Thompson said.

“You can look at the Music Theatre International Web site for upcoming productions of this show, and you know that it’s something special simply by looking at the vast number of planned performances,” she said. The stage version has a couple of extra songs and story line adaptations, but it follows the TV movie closely. Thompson said this show is the perfect opportunity to join her Austin drama students together with area theater enthusiasts.

“It is exciting to see 46 students from Austin, Decatur, Hartselle, Falkville, Danville, Huntsville, Decatur Heritage, Saint Ann’s and St. Bernard’s Prep having a great time getting to know each other while working on this show,” said Thompson.

Andrew Sybert, who will be a Calhoun Community College student this fall, plays Troy the basketball player who falls in love with Gabriella, a Brainiac.

Kirk Averitt, an Austin senior who plays Chad, said he tries to persuade his friend Troy not to try out for the musical but to focus on winning the championship ball game. “But he tries out anyway and does both well,” he said.

Anna Laura Bryan, a senior at Decatur High, plays Sharpay, the president of the Thespians.

“I’m the evil antagonist who tries to get everybody to ‘Stick with the Status Quo’ in one song, but I end up falling for a jock who accidentally got cake all over my face,” she said.

Caroline Godwin, a sophomore at Decatur Heritage, plays Taylor, the Brainiac president of the Science Club, said this musical shows how students can stay within their cliques, or rebel and be themselves.

“People will like the musical better than the movie,” said Decatur High freshman Kathleen O’Hara, who plays student Kelsi Neilson.

If you go

What: Dream Weavers Children’s Theatre presents Disney’s “High School Musical”

When: Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 2 and 7 p.m.

Where: Princess Theatre Center for the Performing Arts, Decatur

Tickets: General admission tickets are $6 for students and senior citizens and $10 for adults, available in advance at Princess Theatre

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