Orange Lutheran’s recent production of Disney’s well-acclaimed High School Musical, spotlighted an unexpected teenage romance between the school’s varsity “basketball boy” and the so-called “freaky math girl.” Troy Bolton and Gabriella Montez are pressured to choose between either basketball and academics, or auditioning for the school’s musical. Having met while singing karaoke, they both feel a strong connection when performing together, and encourage each other to audition. However, everyone around them makes it seem as if they must “stick to the status quo” and remain solely focused on basketball or academics in order to survive through high school. Throughout the show, Troy and Gabriella prove that they are capable of succeeding in both basketball and academics, while also pursuing their limitless dreams as they perform together in front of their entire school. 

Interestingly enough, many of the cast members of OLu’s production of High School Musical broke down stereotypes themselves as they juggled many extracurricular activities, or stepped out of their comfort zone for the first time by participating in the production. 

Freshman Gabe Sanders, seen as team member Chad Danforth, is a part of OLu’s basketball program and was also cast as a major role in his first OLu musical. Gabe explains that even with some missed practices, through communicating with his coaches he was able to enjoy and be involved in both activities. Similarly, sophomore Izzy Wright was one of the many OLu cheerleaders who also got to perform on the Nechita stage as an East High cheerleader. Even with having a cheer practice, two live shows, and a cheer competition all in one day, Izzy expresses that it all ended up being worth it due to the amount of fun she had being able to meet so many new peers and grow new friendships with them. 

Katrina Reta, with the lead role of Gabriella Montez, is a star varsity cross country runner who helped her team win league finals this year and advance to CIF. League Finals took place the morning of the second show, and she held nothing back as she gave both her all. Katrina reveals that her teachers and coaches were extremely understanding of her schedule as she would even run during her free periods in order to make up for missed practices. 

Orange Lutheran sees the potential in students’ many passions, and enables them to not be restricted by stereotypes or limits, but rather urge students to pursue their multiple talents. 

Along with this, many don’t realize the amount of work that goes into one live production and that theater is one of the most collaborative artforms.  One unique aspect of OLu’s theater program is that it also offers a backstage experience for anyone interested, and willing to make the time commitment. Seth Hughes, junior, has previously acted in multiple shows on the Nechita Stage and has also volunteered as a member of the stage crew, and costume crew. High School Musical was the first show Seth worked backstage as a part of the lighting crew as he helped queue all the lights during the live performances. These opportunities serve to teach students through the first-hand experience what production and design expectations in a professional environment would be as they work alongside professionally hired crew members.

This specific show also included OLu’s marching band and pep squad as it perfectly brought to life the school spirit students experience daily at Olu. It is so unique how supportive each program is of the next here at OLu, even if they share little in common. 

Senior, Taylor Furlong, featured as Sharpay, expresses how thankful she is for getting the second lead in an Olu production (her first lead being Tracy in Hairspray), yet also how sad she is that this was her final fall musical with OLu. Through the countless hours of work, singing, and dancing, unbreakable friendships are made. Taylor even shares that as a cast, “we are all like a big family!”

When members of the cast were asked what the most memorable part of the show was to them, the almost unanimous answer was the value in the “sense of community” that was built among the cast, along with all the “new friendships” that were made. In the end, it didn’t matter what “clique” each person identified with, but rather the passion for pursuing what they each loved drove them together to make memories they that last far beyond High School. The sky is the limit when you don’t stick to the status quo!

Photo Credit: Crysti Everhart

Written by

Gabriella Hendricks

Gabby Hendricks, junior, enjoys performing in the school musicals. She is also learning how to play the guitar and loves spending time reading. Gabby began to truly appreciate literature and writing when her sixth-grade teacher read The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros to her class and would also have the students write their own creative stories.