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Young Cast Brings Disney's 'High School Musical' to SCVST's Stage

By Lisa Stratton

JULY 16, 2007--St. Croix Valley Summer Theatre is gearing up to personify the cliques of East High School with Disney's riotously popular "High School Musical" on July 31. Based on the original movie by Peter Baroscchini, the stage version of the Emmy award-winning Disney Channel hit promises to enliven audiences with its rocking musical numbers.

The show follows the twists and turns of the modern-day Romeo and Juliet romance of jock and basketball team captain Troy Bolton and shy, intellectual Gabriella Montez. Having previously met over winter vacation, the two are reunited as Gabriella transfers to East High School. Both attempt to break free of the constraints of their respective cliques by auditioning for the school's upcoming musical performance, and as a result inspire other students to shatter the status quo.

Director Erik Quam, a native of Sturgeon Bay, Wis., returns to SCVST after a three-year absence. He is an experienced director of more than 20 productions and has also performed on stage at regional theatres such as Door Off Broadway Dinner Theatre, The Seasons Players, and Peninsula Players. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin - River Falls, Quam also holds an MFA in acting and directing from Minnesota State University - Mankato.  

SCVST newcomer Colin Hutchins, from Baldwin, Wis., plays the role of Troy. Hutchins, an enormous fan of "High School Musical" prior to auditioning, has also appeared in various other stage productions including "The Wizard of Oz" and "The Sound of Music."

Other jocks in the show include Troy's best friend Chad Danforth, played by Andy Steffen, of New Richmond, Wis., Justin Cooke, of Cottage Grove, Minn., as Zeke Baylor, who hides his secret passion for baking. Max Malanaphy is the strong and silent Jason and Colin Jarrett is Scott Hyde. Both are from Hudson, Wis.

Another new face at SCVST is Bre Graham, of Woodbury, Minn., who stars as Gabriella. A recent graduate of Tartan High School, Graham cites eight years of experience in the theatre.

Gabriella is reluctantly accepted into a group of brainy students known to others as the "brainiacs." Beldenville, Wis., resident Brittany McMillan plays Martha Cox, a sharp-witted girl with a repressed love of hip-hop. While Paige Pribonic, of Hudson, Wis., is a history buff..

Though she is an athlete in real life, Gina Hanzlik, of Somerset, Wis., performs the role of sharp-tongued Sharpay Evans, president of the Drama Club and admirer of Troy.   Other drama club members include; Jon Stiff, St. Francis, Minn., Max Malanaphy, Hudson, Wis., Carolyn Strauss, Minneapolis, Minn., and Josh Pritchett, Anna Parks, Evan Miller, and Katie Berndt, all from River Falls, Wis.

Annamarie Sellman, of Afton, Minn., who plays the emotional Susan, says the live version of the popular movie has the potential to top the original.

"I feel as if the onstage version of 'High School Musical' is ten times more fun. You feel so much more involved with the audience and there is so much more energy to the show," says Sellman.  

Jeremy Richter, of Dresser, Wis., plays skater dude Ripper, a closet cello enthusiast. Richter, a senior at Osceola High School, has appeared in 18 theatre productions, including 'High School Musical'.  

Other students at East High School include Jack Scott, Ella Pruitt, Willa Townsend, Kelsi Neilson, Brooke McMillan, Holly Germain, Lexi Bruns, Lisa Rosenberg, Katie Berndt, Kristin Hoffman, Evan Miller, Paige Pribonic, Amanda Chial, Colin Jarrett, Max Malanaphy, Anna Parks, Andrea Ellingson and Heather Nordby.

With a cast mostly hailing from the pre-college set, "High School Musical" does incorporate a few adult performers. Sandee Blakeley, of River Falls, Wis., plays Ms. Darbus, the enthusiastic drama teacher of East High School. A real-life teacher with the Baldwin-Woodville school district, Blakeley says she was drawn to the role.

"I strangely found myself making a connection with Ms. Darbus," says Blakeley. "In some ways, my style of teaching and maybe even my personality are a little bit like hers--a little crazy at times, but genuinely loving to do what I do."  

Additional adult members of the cast are Tom Monn, Woodbury, Minn., as Coach Bolton; Michael Norman, River Falls, Wis., as Karaoke M.C.; Carolyn Strauss as Ms. Tenny; and Josh Pritchett as the Moderator.

A talented artistic and productions staff has been assembled for "High School Musical": James Norman, of Woodbury, Minn., musical director; Gretchen H. Page, of River Falls, Wis., principal choreographer; Steve Kath, of St. Paul, Minn., set designer; Alex Clark, Woodbury, Minn., lighting design and technical director; Alicia Hermsen, of Hudson, Wis., stage manager; and Deb Murphy, of St. Paul, Minn., costume designer. The technical crew also includes; Denise Baker, Maggie Hall, Sylvia Wadzinski, Erin Morris, Jason Unseth, Holly Conwell, Amanda Piccirillo, Rachel Radkey, Keith Carl, Justin DeLong, Saori Ugari, Hunter Stofferahn, and Aaron Clark.

SCVST's production of "High School Musical" also incorporates a live orchestra, conducted by James Norman, originally of River Falls, Wis.

Performances begin on July 31 and continue Aug. 1-5 and 8-11. Each show is held at the Blanche Davis Theatre at the Kleinpell Fine Arts building, UW-River Falls, and begins at 7:30 p.m. A matinee showing will be held Aug. 5 at 1:30 p.m.  

Tickets can be purchased by calling 715-425-3114 or toll-free at 800-228-5423 weekdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. or at the SCVST box office, Kleinpell Fine Arts building. Limited seating is available for this show.


Last updated: Thursday, 22-Apr-2010 16:08:24 Central Daylight Time


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