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Sandy Journal

‘High School Musical, Jr.’ on stage at Albion as Knights stand united

Apr 13, 2021 01:58PM ● By Julie Slama

In mid-March, Albion Middle student-thespians rehearsed a basketball scene in “High School Musical, Jr.” in preparation for their late April opening. (Photo courtesy of Juliana Brassfield)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

The next step big step for the middle-schoolers is high school. Preparing for their upcoming four years and living through a pandemic the past year has made Albion Middle School students realize that they’re “all in this together.”

The Knights will showcase how they’ve united—“everyone is special in their own way; we make each other strong; we’re not the same, we’re different in a good way; together’s where we belong”—through the lyrics of song and working together to put on “High School Musical, Jr.”

The show is scheduled for 7 p.m., April 22-23 and again, April 26-27 in the school’s kiva at 2755 Newcastle Dr. Tickets and livestream options will be available through the school’s website, Dates and options may change following COVID-19 safety and health guidelines.

“As an arts department we have spent a lot of time talking about belonging and the differences we all make in the world,” show director Jenni Perkins said. “Our hope in performing ‘High School Musical, Jr.’ is to help further that concept of the connections they make, the differences they have, and all of those working together help everyone to be stronger.”

Working with Perkins is music director Taylor Rowley, choreographer Sofia Waugh, costumer Emalee Brown and backdrops and photographer Tiffani Sullivan.

The musical leads are Miles Layton playing Troy Bolton; Marley Sokia as Gabriella Montez; Eddie Garner as Chad Danforth; Macy Hanks as Taylor McKessie; Ali Nikolaus as Sharpay Evans; and Aiden Allred as Ryan Evans. All lead students are eighth-graders.

More than 200 students auditioned to be part of the musical.

“We were so excited to have the highest number of auditions in our school history. It shows that the kids need this opportunity to perform. Since day one, we’ve had students express how grateful they are able to perform and we’re glad that we can make this happen, with precautions,” Perkins said.

She said that while students, who all are rehearsing in masks, are cast in different groups such as the thespians, the brainiacs, the jocks or the cheerleaders, they’re able to keep them separated for contact tracing. Even with the large ensemble, students in early rehearsals only practiced in-person once per week and have been socially distanced throughout the kiva.

“We’ll space them in the aisles and back of the auditorium to keep them distant and we’re in the process of making sure family groups are separated and spaced out as well,” Perkins said about the performances.

Rehearsals started in mid-February, first with music, then choreography and blocking were added. In addition to in-person rehearsals, Perkins and other teachers have created a Canvas course for students to practice on their own—with music and choreography. After learning their part, students submit a video of them performing so teachers can review it.

“The idea is that they can learn it step-by-step and then we’ll put it all together during rehearsals. It’s different, but turning out to be really positive,” she said, adding it’s how she, and other teachers, have offered their classwork, so it’s been consistent for student learning. 

While they’re working together to put on the musical, Perkins said that they’re also finding a connection.

“The kids need a focal point, a place of belonging. They’re finding acceptance in their world and at school,” she said.

Much like the cast in “High School Musical, Jr.” found theirs —“We’re all in this together; and it shows; when we stand hand-in-hand; make our dreams come true.”