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Murray Journal

‘High School Musical’ kicks off Murray Amphitheater’s season

Jun 02, 2023 01:14PM ● By Shaun Delliskave

“High School Musical: On Stage,” the play based on the beloved Disney franchise that captured the hearts of audiences worldwide, is set to take the Murray Amphitheater (495 E. 5300 South) stage June 9-10, 12, 15-17 at 8 p.m. Director Jim E. Smith helms a dedicated production team and a talented cast and promises to deliver the enchanting “Disney experience” that fans have come to love. 

Most Utahns are intimately aware of the Disney Channel’s production as it was filmed in many locations around the state, including Murray High. While the East High School façade features prominently, the actual auditorium shots were done in Murray High.

“Our collaborative production team wants to create a ‘Disney experience’ for our audience,” Smith said. “Our choreographer, Kylee Ogzewalla, has taken great care in bringing the feel of the movie with her high energy and fun dancing incorporating tap, hip hop, and modern dance. She has taken the dance in the show and made it unique while still being true to the feel of the movies. Our cast is vocally amazing, and with the skills of Lynn Chatterton (our music director), they will blow the audience away vocally. The live band and fantastic set pieces transport you back to the best parts of high school.”

According to Ogzewalla, “We wanted to capture the feel of the movie while making the dance in the show unique. It has been a thrilling challenge to bring the same energy and enthusiasm to the stage, and I believe the audience will feel it too.”

The play begins at East High School. The first day after winter break unfolds with students settling back into their routines. The Jocks, Brainiacs, Thespians and Skater Dudes regroup with their respective cliques, sharing anecdotes of their vacations and eagerly embracing the fresh start of the new year. Troy, the basketball team captain and a prominent figure among the students, stumbles upon an unexpected encounter. Gabriella, a bright and musically inclined girl he had met while singing karaoke on his ski trip, has recently enrolled at East High. Their connection ignites a spark of interest and curiosity. In a surprising turn of events, they decide to audition for the high school musical under the guidance of Ms. Darbus. This audacious decision disrupts the established social dynamics, eliciting mixed reactions from their peers who protect the existing order. Nonetheless, Troy and Gabriella’s collaboration challenges the norm and offers an opportunity for other students to showcase their talents and find their place to shine.

As a community theater, this production aims to provide opportunities to individuals interested in the arts, regardless of their prior experience. The director emphasizes the importance of community theaters in nurturing talent, both on and offstage. 

“We have a broad range of experience in this production,” Smith said. The cast comprises newcomers to theater as well as seasoned performers who have honed their craft for years. 

Parker Lewis, a veteran of Murray’s Arts in the Park and a local talent, has been cast as Troy Bolton. According to Smith, Lewis brings a captivating depth to the character, drawing the audience into Troy’s emotional performances. Playing Gabriella Montez is Brooklyn Tousley, whose character navigates the challenges of being the new girl in school while embracing her true self. Smith notes Tousley’s incredible vocal talents and commanding stage presence promise to captivate audiences.

Directing this production of “High School Musical” has come with its fair share of challenges. The most significant hurdle has been putting the show together during the final months of high school. Many cast members have had to juggle the demands of both school and the production, including competitions, sports events, tests and graduation preparations. However, the director commends the cast’s dedication and commitment, making rehearsals enjoyable and productive.

“It has been inspiring to witness the incredible commitment our cast has shown not only to the show but also to their personal lives. They have embraced every challenge with enthusiasm, making this production truly special,” Smith said.

For the audience, Assistant Director Betsy Christianson believes the play will be fun and inspiring.

“This show is about embracing your inner diversity—whether it’s breaking out of your comfort zone or realizing that your individuality can contribute to the success of yourself and everyone around you. Once you realize your potential, it’s up to you to take a chance and soar. The story begins and ends with the same song, ‘Start of Something New.’ To me, it means there is really no ending, only new beginnings,” Christianson said.

Tickets are available at the Murray Parks & Recreation office and online at  λ