A school production the Northern Stage of High School Musical, a musical comedy based on the Disney Channel Original movie written by Peter Barsocchini, has been rated as one of the top five things to do this week in Newcastle, by Made in Tyne and Wear TV.
This is Newcastle High’s first major production after its recent launch in September 2014 (following the merger of founder schools Central Newcastle High School and Newcastle Church High School). The School has taken over Northern Stage theatre’s main 450 seat auditorium for four performances later this week, with two of the four performances already sold out.
This year, because of the start of the new School, the girls were allowed to choose which musical to put on, and High School Musical won ‘hands down’. Sarah Thomas, in her A level year and who is playing the iconic character Sharplay, explained: “we always joked in our AS drama lessons that we should perform High School Musical because we thought that it would be so much fun. It’s such a classic for our generation and, no matter what anyone says, everyone loves it!” Sarah has aspirations of continuing her theatre career after she leaves school and hopes to study Theatre Studies alongside English Literature at university.
Anna Dobson, head of Drama at Newcastle High and Director of the show, said “I have to admit that initially, High School Musical was not a staff favourite, in fact we had agreed that we would never put it on. However, with the start of the new school, we decided to listen to what the girls wanted and it was by far the most popular choice of musical, with staggering numbers of girls signing up to audition.
“In retrospect I have to admit that we were wrong, alright the script isn’t Ibsen, it’s a simple tale about friendship and being true to yourself, but what’s so bad about that? It has been our most challenging musical to date, and it also contains some of the most ‘catchy’ numbers ever”.
High School Musical is about two high school students, Troy Bolton, captain of East High School’s basketball team, nicknamed the Wildcats, and Gabriella Montez, a shy top student. Both of them try out for the lead roles in their school’s musical (and quickly fall in love in the process) despite the lack of support from the rest of their classmates, one of them being Sharplay Evans and her brother sidekick Ryan Evans.
The production has a huge, all female cast, starring 100 girls from all different year groups and including several aspiring thespians and, by coincidence, all the head girl team, although not all as prefects in the musical.
Alex Carmichael, 17 years old and from Newcastle, is playing lead role Troy Bolton. She is a dedicated member of the People’s Theatre in Newcastle where she performed as the lead, Dorothy in Gregory’s Girl, and plans to study Drama at university with the aim of becoming a professional actor: “I am incredibly excited to portray the character of Troy Bolton, its my first school production as the lead character. The great thing about a show like High School Musical is that it combines everything: dance, choreography, singing and harmonies as well as acting and character development”.
Aliya Zaidi, aged 18 years old from Washington, Newcastle, is playing the other lead part Gabriella Montez. Aliya has always had a passion for performing and has been a member of Starset Theatre since the age of 8, with many leading roles most recently as Tracy in Hairspray.
The set design for the production is by Nicola Farr, from Gosforth and an old girl of founder school Newcastle High, currently in her second year at Edinburgh University studying Intermedia Art. She said: “I am involved in quite a lot of student theatre but this is the first time I have designed a whole set. It was quite difficult trying to accommodate such a large cast on the stage and design something versatile which would work for different scenes. It was a brilliant experience working with the team at Northern Stage, and they were very helpful with a few initial problem areas”. Nicola can’t wait to see her plans and drawings brought to life on the stage later this week.
Mrs Hilary French, Headmistress, added “one of our founder schools, Central High, had a strong track record of successful productions at Northern Stage ending with three sell out performances of Oliver! Last year. I’m sure this show will be one to remember and a perfect start to the theatrical triumphs of Newcastle High School for Girls”.
Newcastle High has taken over Northern Stage’s main 450 seat auditorium for four performances later this week: Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings at 7pm, and a Friday afternoon matinee performance at 2.30pm. Some tickets are still available for the Wednesday evening and Friday afternoon matinee performance. Tickets are available from the Northern Stage box office on 0191 230 5151 or www.northernstage.co.uk.