Unlike the rival cliques in the film version, the entirety of Garden City Collegiate seems to be supporting this year’s musical theatre production of High School Musical.
The 2006 TV movie tells the story of two students — the ever-popular Troy Bolton, captain of the basketball team, and Gabriella Montez, the shy math/science geek — who try out for the lead roles in their school’s musical. Consequently, jealous jocks and nerds try to spoil their plans.
But that’s not the case at Garden City.
"The hockey guys, you wouldn’t think they’re into musicals, but they’re coming up to me, ‘Hey Troy, we’re going to come see your show!’ They’re pumped. Everyone loves it," said Grade 11 student Kamal Chioua, who plays Troy.
"It’s because everyone at our school grew up with this movie," said Grade 12 student Mia Bernasconi, who plays Gabriella. "It was so popular and everyone loves it. It’s such a classic to us. I guess that’s why everyone is so excited. It kind of puts the pressure on us because we want to live up to the parts."
The two young actors and their Garden City peers will present High School Musical Dec. 18 to 20 at Pauline-Boutal Hall, Centre culturel franco-manitobain. Rehearsals have been underway since the start of the school year, and the students are almost through the scenes in act two.
"My favourite scene, it’s kind of a doozy. There’s a dance called ‘Stick to the Status Quo,’ and it’s so busy and there’s so much going on," Bernasconi said. "It’s set in the cafeteria. Everyone’s coming out and saying things, like a jock says ‘I love to bake’ and everyone’s ‘No! That’s weird!’
"Visually its ‘Wow,’ I don’t know how we’re doing it, but it looks pretty good."
"There’s a lot of traffic. It’s tough, but you just have to be on time," Chioua added.
Both Chioua and Bernasconi have previous acting experience, and both are involved in the school’s choir, with Bernasconi also partaking in Garden City’s vocal jazz group. Chioua said he would like to pursue acting as a career, while Bernasconi sees herself continuing in drama as a teacher.
Whether or not students pursue theatre past high school, Paul Longtin, Garden City drama teacher and High School Musical director, said these high school productions are well worth it.
"I think theatre is very good for building confidence," Longtin said. "Certainly the kids who have lead roles, if you can get up and sing and act in front of 300, 400 people, that really builds a level of confidence. There are kids here who have ambitions of going on in acting. It’s a very competitive industry, but even if it’s just you going on in life, these are life skills that really benefit you."
Tickets for High School Musical are $15 ($5 for children) and are available at Garden City Collegiate (711 Jefferson Ave.).