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Young actors take on challenge of bring popular Disney musical to Macon stage

The jocks, the brainiacs, the thespians and the skater dudes are set to go at it again at East High as Theatre Macon’s Youth Actors’ Company perform “High School Musical.”
The jocks, the brainiacs, the thespians and the skater dudes are set to go at it again at East High as Theatre Macon’s Youth Actors’ Company perform “High School Musical.” Special to The Telegraph

Disney’s “High School Musical” was a hit from the moment it appeared on television as a Disney Channel movie.

Two sequels followed with a fourth reportedly in the works along with a TV series.

The year it appeared, 2006, the soundtrack album sold 3.7 million copies and became the first-ever television soundtrack to make No. 1 on Billboard magazine’s Top 200 chart. It made soundtrack album of the year and many of the tunes placed on Billboard’s Hot 100 singles chart.

Then, of course, the musical became a musical for stage.

Theatre Macon’s Youth Actors’ Company begins a run of six performances of the show Friday.

“Really, it was a made-for-TV take-off of the movie ‘Grease,’ ” said Richard Frazier, artistic director at Theatre Macon who’s directing the play. “And ‘Grease’ is just a high school version of the age-old story of young love with all the odds stacked against it. This time, it’s Troy, a jock, a basketball player, who meets Gabriella, a brainy girl, on vacation and then the action kicks up when they upset the school’s status quo by trying out for leads in the high school’s musical, the domain of the school’s thespians. Both Troy and Gabriella love theater, they realize, and they defy the odds against them.”

It’s the story’s twists, great songs and high energy showcasing young people’s talent that makes the price of a ticket and an evening spent out watching more than worth it, Frazier said.

“I think audiences will be inspired by the ensemble work these kids do,” he said. “Of course, there are stand-out leads, but the way the ensemble works together in group numbers is really something. In the high-energy number where the cafeteria really goes crazy, it’s like our kids just explode out of the water every time they do it. It’s so exciting to watch.”

Frazier said 31 cast members make up the production coming from a half dozen Miiddle Georgia counties. He said Theatre Macon’s Young Actors’ Company was begun to provide young people an opportunity to pursue interests in theater arts through two to three productions annually. Open auditions are held for fifth- through 12th-graders in public, private and home schools.

The Young Actors’ Company also provides two annual scholarships for students. “These are our future business and community leaders whether or not any of them end up sticking with theater,” Frazier said. “As they get out and are engaged and enriched through experiences like this they’re more prepared and motivated to stay engaged with the community however they choose to contribute. Plus, they certainly are the future of theater and the ones who will keep theater alive — and fun — here.”

Contact Michael W. Pannell at mwpannell@gmail.com.

“High School Musical”

Where: Theatre Macon, 438 Cherry St.

When: 8 p.m. March 8-9 and 15-16; 2:30 p.m. March 10, 17

Cost: $12-$18

Information: www.theatremacon.com

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