Musical Cast & Crew Recovering from Letdown Following Performances

Madison Polack, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

Many students and teachers at NDA put every ounce of their time into making the performance of High School Musical one to remember. In NDA’s version of the show, the studious Gabriella was played by NDA senior Ella Hunt, and the jock was played by senior Ben Richards.

In addition, Chad was played by Charlie Urick, Taylor by Hailey Gutowski, Sharpay by Katie Romes and Ryan by Paul Gapinski. The directors included NDA’s very own Mrs. Gilson and Mrs. Salerno. Mrs. Flinchum was choreographer, and Mr. Hill directed the pit musicians.

“It truly was a great show,” said junior Grace Zellner. “I loved it… I even saw it twice.”

The work of everyone behind the scenes cannot go unnoticed. Ultimately, all of it definitely paid off in the end. For the cast and directors, there was no better feeling than hearing about how people enjoyed every minute of the show. Many even mentioned how HSM was the best show that they had ever seen at NDA.

“To think that all the hard work put in allowed for the best show at NDA is incredibly rewarding,” Richards said.

“When I had rehearsals every night of the week, I felt incredibly stressed not only with the progress of the production but also trying to keep up with my life outside of the musical. I often found myself complaining and overwhelmed with opening night coming closer and closer as days went by. I had forgotten what a daily routine without thinking about the musical felt like,” Richards stated.

“It is really weird not having musical practices or shows because we spent so much time on it, especially toward the end. I definitely miss seeing everyone everyday.”

Richards, who played Troy Bolton, was never really big into performing in musicals. However, once it was all over, he mentioned that he found himself missing it way more than he would have ever expected. He recalled helping take down the set, realizing how the result of all of their hard work put in went by in a flash. He went home after the last performance, sat on his couch and thought “now what?”

“It was a bittersweet moment as I was able to get my life back,” he said, “but also lost a bit of what had become my life over the previous 3.5 months.”

After this experience, he was sad to think that he will never perform one again. As his role model and mentor Clayton Lisowski would say, “Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.”

Richards described one of his special moments by saying, “I can’t hit harmonies, and I didn’t hit as many as I wanted to during the show. But about a week after winter break, I put in a lot of work hoping to get the right notes and pitches down. I spent many of my 5B lunch periods in Mrs. Salerno’s office going over my parts, and even went to her house one night when rehearsal was cancelled. When we had our first run-through of the show, I sang the song ‘Can’t Take my Eyes off of You’ without any errors. It was a confidence booster for me, and it felt awesome to get back on track after missing a week of rehearsals due to my trip to Europe (where I was memorizing lines on every plan/train/cab ride).”

A funny moment happened on closing night, the last performance for seniors at NDA. One of the cast members forgot to bring a prop iPhone on stage to hand to Troy for the scene when Gabriella calls him. Ben had to pretend to hold a phone and all the guys around him started laughing. Richards said, “It felt like I was on an SNL skit trying not to break.”

“Another special moment was when the seniors performed ‘Breaking Free’ and held hands at the front of the stage at the end of the song,” Hunt said.

The drama department hasn’t sold out a show in years. Weeks before the show, posters were being put up all over town, and word was being spread on social media about the show.

Richards said, “I was incredibly happy for our director, Andrea Gilson, and that her first show was a huge success.”

Indeed, it was. People of all ages enjoyed the show. They loved the music, the acting, the dancing and the story. The performers were able to capture the attention of the audience and bring them on the journey of the East High Wildcats.