Saturday, July 21, 2007

They're Not Called All Stars for Nothing

Needless to say, the most impressive people associated with Disney’s High School Musical, which opened this evening to a well-deserved standing ovation, are the 38 students and two adults who comprise the magnificent cast. We use the moniker Greater Richmond’s High School All Star Musical to describe this annual summertime initiative. These great kids have earned the right to be called “All Stars.” I thank them for their talent and commitment.

Dave Amadee and Nadia Harika head the terrific cast as Troy and Gabriella. Dave is a rising home-schooled senior who comes to us from extensive experience with Christian Youth Theatre—an exceptional training program. At CYT, Dave played The Beast in another Disney musical that I bet you can guess, and more recently Joseph in Joseph … Dreamcoat. Nadia is a rising junior at Deep Run H S, where she most recently performed as Ronnette in Little Shop of Horrors. She has also received training and experience at CYT, as well as SPARC and the Richmond Dance Center.

Ali Thibodeau and Chris Collins play the “second leads”—the Evans twins, Sharpay and Ryan. Ali is a rising junior at Lee-Davis H S, and a dance teacher and performer at Shuffles Dance Center. Ali’s last two shows have been Joseph … Dreamcoat at Swift Creek Mill Theatre and The True Story of Pocahontas at Theatre IV. Chris is a rising senior at Godwin H S, and he’s thrilled to be returning to the beautiful Steward stage this summer after playing Eugene with us last summer in Grease.

Filling our two major supporting roles are Eric D. Brown, Jr. as Troy’s best bud Chad, and Brittney Germaine Slater as Gabriela’s new pal Taylor. Eric comes from a very musical family, his mother being a singer and his father a drummer. He has played saxophone and percussion with the Varina H S Marching Blue Devils, sung with the Varina show choir, and performed with the Ebony Esquire Drum Corps. Brittney is a rising senior at Henrico H S, where she participates in the Honors Chorus and the Center for the Arts.

Rounding out our young featured players are Jessica Harika as Kelsi Nelson (the composer of the musical within the musical), Zac Moon as Jack Scott (the velvet-voiced master of morning announcements), and Andrew Schappacher as Zeke Baylor (the dude who loves to bake and would love even more to be Sharpay’s boyfriend). Jessica, Zac and Andrew all three appeared with us in Grease last summer.

Jessica just graduated from Deep Run H S and will be studying voice at VCU’s School of Music next fall. Zac just graduated from Collegiate and will be studying theatre next year at UNC-Chapel Hill. Andrew, one of our youngest cast members, is a rising freshman at Clover Hill’s Math and Science Center. Andrew has received excellent training at the Jessica Morgan School of Dance. When you see the show, look up on stage for the guy who’s dancing his socks off. That will be our Andrew.

Well, it’s getting to be 2 a.m., and I’m bushed. I hope the rest of the cast will forgive me if I now hit the sack and talk with you more tomorrow about the remaining All Stars who will be gracing our stage for the next three weeks in Disney’s High School Musical.

--Bruce Miller

No comments: