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'Disney's High School Musical' to be performed this weekend

Jocks. Brainiacs. Skaters. Cheerleaders. It may sound like a typical high school experience, but this weekend the spectacle won't be in the Batavia High cafeteria, it'll be on the stage. 

Starting Thursday night, Encore Theatre Arts will be performing "Disney's High School Musical." The play, which is based on the smash-hit movie, follows nerdy Gabriella and jock Troy as they sing and dance their way through falling in love and discovering their place in high school.

Director Lynda Hodgins says that the play is very similar to the movie, with only a few changes, such as a new character and a slightly different setting. Some of the original characters were cut out completely, and others' parts were slightly adjusted.

"The Taylor in the musical has a bigger part than in the movie," says Maureen Edwards, 12, of her role as Gabriella's best friend. "You see her friendship with Gabriella more."

The show will also differ from the movie when it comes to dancing, says choreographer Tara Kaczorowski, who also has the part of mean-girl diva Sharpay Evans. 

"The only dance that's the same as in the movie is for 'We're All in This Together,' because we thought kids would be expecting that. Surprisingly, this has been one of the easiest shows I've choreographed so far, because the music has a good beat and it's fun to dance to," says Kaczorowski.

So is it difficult taking on the roles of some of the most beloved actors in recent 'tween media? 

"Well, I based some of my character off of Zac Efron's," says Brian Bodgan, who plays jock-turned-actor Troy Bolton. "I try to give him the same passion and pizzazz that Zac did, but I'm definitely a different Troy."

Bogdan, 24, says he was attracted to the role right away because of similarities between him and his character. 

"I was a lot like Troy in high school. I grew up playing sports year-round, and also doing theater. They always went hand-in-hand for me, and Troy is trying to find the balance between them. So I see a lot of myself in the character."

Justin Ryan, 22, who plays Sharpay's equally attention-loving sidekick, brother Ryan Evans, also has no trouble getting into his role.

"I basically am Ryan in real life," he laughs. "You know, theater geek, classy dresser. I actually used a lot of stuff from my own closet for my costumes." 

The cast, which is mostly composed of high school and college students as well as twenty-somethings, is proof that the story is popular among all ages, not just children.

"I love the movie," Edwards confesses. "I used to listen to the soundtrack every day."

"When it first came out, I thought it was fantastic, and I was in college!" says Ryan.  "There was so much hype for it, and I thought it was really great."

When asked if it was his favorite movie, Paul Teresi, 16, replies, "Duh!"

And Bogdan said "It's a story I think everyone can relate to. The characters are going through this journey of discovering themselves, and everyone goes through that in high school. It's a time for finding who you are. I think that's what makes the show so successful and recognizable."

"Encore is a new company," says Hodgins, "and they wanted to do something with a wide appeal that's a big ticket seller."

Sell tickets it surely will. After all, everybody loves a high school musical.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 7-9 and 2 p.m. Jan. 10 at Batavia High School. Tickets are $10 when purchased at Adam Miller Toy & Bicycles and $12 at the door.

Amy Vlack
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Joined: Jan 12 2009
My daughter and I went as guests of Susan Bateman. The performance was very good and we really enjoyed it. The cast and crew did a wonderful job.
Lorie Longhany
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Joined: May 2 2008
Great performance -- Maureen, Tia, Teresa, Mary Bernadette, Janae, Danny Carlson and the rest of the cast and crew!
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