‘It’s really good to be back’: ‘High School Musical’ marks return to in-person musicals for Frontier

  • Jamih Griffin as Troy and Aine Carey as Gabriella in a scene from “High School Musical” at Frontier Regional School. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Sophomore Patrice Moriarty as Ms. Darbus, center, in a scene from “High School Musical” at Frontier Regional School. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Cheerleaders in a scene from “High School Musical” being performed at Frontier Regional School in South Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 3/16/2022 5:03:21 PM

SOUTH DEERFIELD — Two years after the school’s last musical was canceled during the initial spread of COVID-19, Frontier Regional School students are preparing to show they’re all in this together when they return to the stage to put on “High School Musical” this weekend.

Adapted from the 2006 Disney film that follows the high school love story of Troy Bolton (played by Zac Efron) and Gabriella Montez (played by Vanessa Hudgens), Frontier students will take on the role of the Wildcats as the cast and crew buzzes with the excitement of returning to the stage on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

“We have a really amazing cast,” said junior Aine Carey, who is starring as Gabriella. “It’s really good to be back.”

Carey is cast alongside senior Jamih Griffin, who is taking on his first-ever lead role as Troy. Despite auditioning for the lead role, Griffin said he had never actually seen “High School Musical” until just a few months ago.

“I didn’t watch it until a week before auditions,” he said. “It’s very cheesy, but it’s fun.”

Griffin added that the experience has been a little “crazy” as he adjusts to taking on the lead role.

“It’s really fun and really tiring,” he said.

Both students said the two-year gap had the cast ready to perform on stage again, which has brought a ton of energy to rehearsals.

“We all feed off each other,” Carey said. “There’s going to be lots of big dance numbers with tons of people on stage. … It’s very exciting.”

Director Gian DiDonna said “High School Musical” was an easy choice to produce coming out of the pandemic because the movie is a part of “teenage folklore,” while also being such a happy show that it “could lighten their spirits.”

“It’s a show students know well already,” DiDonna said. “They all grew up with this soundtrack.”

DiDonna said this is the first time he’s ever directed a musical — he’s directed other productions in the past, including “The Outsiders” in December — and while students are able to pick up on the songs quickly, the rapidly changing sets make it a “technical nightmare.” Beyond the technical part of the production, however, DiDonna said rehearsals have been “close to peaking at the right time.”

“Because they know the songs, that’s 60% of it,” DiDonna said. “These kids have been working hard. The enthusiasm and the intent is real.”

Patrice Moriarty, a sophomore playing drama teacher Ms. Darbus, said the production was a good one to return from the pandemic with.

“Coming back from COVID, it was a really great pick,” she said, adding that people can expect “a really happy” show.

In March 2020, the school had just finished dress rehearsals for “Annie” and was prepared to perform the show, but it was canceled as COVID-19 began rapidly spreading throughout the country.

Performances of “High School Musical” will be held Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m., while Sunday’s show will be a 2 p.m. matinee. Advance tickets can be purchased at bit.ly/36fxDK1. Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for students and seniors. Doors open an hour before the show.

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.


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