‘High School Musical’ coming to Forest Lake

The lead parts in the Forest Lake production of Disney’s “High School Musical,” from left: Zach Marleau as Chad Danforth, Kelsey Sarver as Taylor McKessie, Calvin Waddle as Troy Bolton, Alyssa King as Gabriella Montez, Molly Boland as Sharpay Evans, and Ryan Sudo as Ryan Evans. Photo by Craig Zimanske.

The Forest Lake High School theater department will present Disney’s “High School Musical” as its fall production.

The musical is the story of a group of teenagers who struggle to live up to the expectations placed on them by their friends and family while still following their own unique dreams.

Troy, the popular captain of the Wildcat basketball team, and Gabriella, the bright and beautiful new student at East High, break all the rules as they secretly audition for a spot in the school’s musical production.  Together with the rest of the cast they learn about acceptance, teamwork, and just being themselves.

The show can be seen at the Forest Lake High School auditorium at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 2 and 3, and Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Nov. 8 to 10.

General admission tickets at the door will cost $4 for students and seniors and $6 for adults.

Purchase reserved tickets in advance for $10 by phone at 651-982-8476 or in person at the high school activities office. The premium price buys a spot in the lower middle or upper middle section. The  extra money raised will go to the “Support our Fine Arts” scholarship that Theater Director Tim Newcomb started 15 years ago, when he was in his second year at the high school.

Main Characters

Molly Boland plays Drama Club president Sharpay Evans–not the nicest role.  Is this the part she wanted? “Yes, definitely!” Molly said. “I like playing the mean girl.”

“I hope I am nothing like Sharpay in real life,” she added.

Molly said she exaggerates her facial expressions and body movements to convey Sharpay’s reactions to events.  “Sharpay and [her brother] Ryan are so over the top,” she said. “I take a good reaction and try to multiply it by 10.”

Molly’s favorite part is the cheesy audition song that Sharpay and Ryan do together. “We get mad at each other a little ways in and have to pretend we’re not,” she said.

Molly, a senior, is in her third theater production at the high school–all musicals. Sophomore year she played Violet, one of the Peanuts gang. Junior year, she was missionary Sarah Brown in “Guys and Dolls.”

Molly said the Sarah Brown character started the play uptight, but in the middle of the story got drunk in a bar in Havana.  At first, she resisted: “I don’t know how to act drunk,” she said. Now she’s glad she had that part, and is looking forward to taking on Sharpay Evans.

In addition to theater offerings at the high school, Molly has been in Youth Performing Arts since seventh grade.

Ryan Sudo plays Sharpay’s brother, Ryan Evans.

The part matches him well, he said, and he likes that there is a lot of singing and dancing. The role is “sort of the villain, a little bit out there,” Ryan said. “It doesn’t have to be so straightforward.”

Ryan called himself very introverted by nature, and said he is still working on being comfortable playing such a different person.

Yet he welcomes the chance this musical provides to experiment with another persona. “This is my chance to break out of that and be something different,” he explained, “to bring joy to people who are watching.”

Watch Ryan use facial expression and body language to show the emotions his character experiences in the cake scene. When Sharpay gets a cake in the face, he said, “she lets out an ear-piercing scream. I’m her brother, so I’m worried, but I’m scared at the same time.”

Ryan, also a senior, has also been in a musical every year in high school. This is his biggest part. In the earlier roles, he said, he was not the center of attention. In the lesser roles, your job is not to steal attention from the main characters, so the acting is not so overexaggerated. “If you’re supposed to be the center of attention,” he said, “you have to be so much more than you think is necessary.” The other roles he’s played are a 4-year-old younger brother sophomore year and a chain-smoking Chicago gangster junior year. Ryan has been in Youth Performing Arts since ninth grade.

Two seniors also landed the two main roles, basketball captain Troy Bolton and Gabriella Montez, the math-and-science-loving transfer student.

But unlike Molly and Ryan, until now Calvin Waddle and Alyssa King have never participated in the high school theater program.

Alyssa King, who plays Gabrielle, expected to be just another girl in the chorus. “Being a newbie, it’s not the part I was expecting,” she said. “I’m really happy,” she added.

For the tryout Alyssa sang a song she had performed as part of the Washington County 4-H Arts-In musical.

Calvin Waddle was recruited by Newcomb to try for the part of Troy. Calvin had given a speech about how he enjoys singing and playing piano. Singing is the part he likes most  in his role as Troy.

Having a lead role is not a small task. Rehearsals take more than 20 hours a week for the main characters.

Alyssa’s current courseload includes band, CIS advanced public speaking, youth leadership, CIS Spanish 4, and precalculus. When she got the part of Gabrielle, she quit the receptionist job at the Forest Lake Fantastic Sam’s that she had landed just two months before.

But her advice to younger students is to get involved. “Forest Lake has a great musical program. It opens a lot of doors,” she said.

Calvin is taking CIS Spanish 5, CIS public speaking, art, and pre-calc, and is grateful for his fifth-hour study hall.

He also advises incoming sophomores to take advantage of the theater program. “I highly recommend it,” he said. “It’s a great way to meet people who have the same interests as you.”

Calvin even expressed some regret for not starting sooner. “This is my first show,” he said. “I’m kind of kicking myself now. If you enjoy it, go for it.”