High Hopes For High School Musical Play


K. Sozzo

Students practice their moves for “Getcha’ Head in the Game” from High School Musical: On Stage!

Noelia Moore, Editor-in-Chief

Alex Ochoa practices his basketball skills for “Get’cha Head in the Game”


UPDATE: Purchase Tickets to High School Musical: On Stage! from TicketLeap

Becton’s Theater Arts Department is setting the stage for its upcoming production of High School Musical: On Stage! the last weekend in February. Directing the play is Mrs. Michele Morrell, who previously directed Becton’s Roger and Hammerstein’s Cinderella last school year. This time around, resident English and journalism teacher, Mrs. Kara Sozzo, will be lending her hand as the assistant director, with Miss. Ashlee Tancredi as choreographer for the numerous dance numbers. 

(from left with characters) Alex Ochoa (Troy), Jorel Williams (Zeke), and Elijah Pontier (Chad) rehearse.

“I think the [audience’s] response will be great,” said Mrs. Sozzo. “The movie is very popular, so the student body is familiar with the work.” One of the aspects of this year’s show that differentiates it from past Becton productions is that the two main leads will be played by underclassmen rather than seniors, breaking with usual tradition. Freshman Alex Ochoa has taken on the iconic role of Troy Bolton, while sophomore Morgan Carter will play the coveted part of Gabriella Montez. Freshmen Sophia Diaz and Peter Schumann, sophomore Elijah Pontier and Freshman Hiba Figuigui will portray the remaining four leads, Sharpay Evans, Ryan Evans, Chad Danforth, and Taylor McKessie, respectfully. Rounding out the cast are Jorel Williams as Zeke, the secret baker, Lily DiBiasi as Ripper, the secret cello player and Tara Koch as Martha, who you may recall from the films, loves to “pop & lock”. Junior Blaze Grabowski will take on the challenging role of Ms. Darbus after he impressed the directors with his acting at auditions and Sean Spadavecchia will keep the show moving as Jack Scott, who performs the school’s announcements. Furthermore, Segall Sanchez will lend her talents as Kelsi, with Devyn Devoe, Melanie Calderon, Samanta Szymanska, Junie Hwang and Dan D’Errico bringing their singing, dancing and acting talents to various roles within the ensemble. Though a smaller cast than years past, the energy of the students shines bright at rehearsals. 

Peter & Sophia strike a pose as Ryan & Sharpay

 Mrs. Morrell stated “I am excited to see how these students will take the ball and run with it. I promise there will be many surprises that will have the audience laughing out loud and bringing them to their feet.”

Alex has spent all four years of middle school performing, landing the lead in his eighth-grade show, Suess-ical the Musical. His passion for acting first sparked from a love of television and acting skits, which developed into an added appreciation for singing. The freshman added, “I’m hoping to get better at dancing by the time the play is over.” 

Choreographer Ashlee Tancredi explains the moves for “Stick to the Status Quo”

On the other hand, Morgan’s goal for participating in High School Musical: On Stage! is “to learn how to work well with people I’ve never met before.” She hones her craft with the theater company Gas Lamp Players Inc., where she just finished a run of the Broadway show Newsies. This is her first time having a lead role, and her first high school production. Morgan plans on majoring in musical theater in college, then moving immediately to New York to pursue a career on Broadway. “I’ll take any acting job I can get,” she added. 

Mrs. Morrell’s inspiration to select HSM as this year’s play was the warm reaction of the fifth-grade students in her school when they watched the film in class. “It was their enthusiasm while singing with the actors that had me itching to do this play,” the director explained. “I want to bring that ‘dancing in their seats’ to the [James Williams] PAC this February.” During the six plays she has directed, in the past four years, it has always been her ultimate goal to teach students the significance of commitment. discipline, patience, and ensuring that they have fun with their roles and tasks. She is most excited to see the kids grow and find themselves through drama, as is Mrs. Sozzo, who exclaimed, “What’s amazing about the theater community is that it accepts everyone; there is a part for everyone no matter what you look like, no matter who you are.”

Melanie Calderon & Sean Spadavecchia embody the “skaters” clique

The teacher also added that they are asking the Becton Wildcats basketball team to make a cameo in the play as the High School Musical (wait for it) Wildcats during “Getcha’ Head in the Game,” a musical number themed around (wait for it) basketball. The drama department also scored free costumes for the ensemble members, thanks to the basketball team and cheerleading squad purchasing new uniforms last spring and donating their old ones to the play.

When asked what advice she would give to students pursuing theater, Mrs. Morrell responded “Take as many classes as you can and always audition. Never give up and understand that the butterflies you may feel in your stomach are a good thing. Don’t let them scare you away.” 

UPDATE: Purchase Tickets to High School Musical: On Stage! from TicketLeap