GLADE SPRING, Va. — A smash-hit movie musical, reminiscent of the classic “Romeo and Juliet” story, will come to life on stage when as many as 40 Washington County students perform one of Disney’s best-loved family favorites.

Rebel Voices on Broadway, a group of students from Glade Spring Middle School and Patrick Henry High School, will bring “High School Musical” to the stage with two evening performances at 7 on Friday and Saturday, May 3 and 4, and a matinee performance at 2 p.m. on Saturday. Performances will be held at Patrick Henry High School.

The theme of the performance is “We’re Different in a Good Way,” a line taken from the movie’s song, “We’re All in This Together,” which will be performed as a finale.

David Carroll, choral instructor at both schools, said the performance has the largest cast ever at the school. It’s also their first dance-heavy show.

“In our prior productions of ‘Oklahoma’ and ‘Seussical the Musical,’ we had complicated movements, but we never had real, full-on big dance scenes. This production is wall-to-wall dance numbers,” Carroll said.

“I have everyone in the musical from enthusiastic sixth-grade students to graduating seniors, working hard together and learning to dance and sing at the same time. They sound wonderful.”

Carroll, who is producing the musical and preparing the music, will be joined by Abi Bell, an Emory & Henry College student who has assumed the role of theatrical director for “High School Musical.”

The choral director said the students are learning to balance everything in their lives in order to participate in the production.

“When the track team has a meet, we lose three leads for part of our rehearsals. We have a lot of actors who are involved in sports. It’s all a balancing act.”

The story focuses on students of East High, including the leading roles of Troy and Gabriella, who learn important lessons in balancing their extracurricular activities with their friends and families.

“While my real-life actors are dealing with the balancing act, the characters of Troy and Gabriella are actually just trying to decide whether to try out for a musical or ‘stick to the status quo’ and conform to their stereotypical roles,” said Carroll. “The production is all about breaking stereotypes.

“Basically, it’s a ‘Romeo and Juliet’ tale of the jock and the brainiac who both discover they like to sing, but if they do try out for the school musical, they disrupt everything in their lives. Troy is captain of the basketball team, and Gabriella is a rising star on the scholarship bowl team,” he explained.

The production may be the last Patrick Henry High School performance for five students who had roles in “Oklahoma” as seventh-grade students. Those actors are junior students Sandy Wright, who plays Gabriella, and Anna Hahn, who plays Martha, and senior students Devan Shortridge, who plays Ryan, Catie Robinson, who plays Taylor, and Saraphine Scott, who plays Darbus.

The cast of “High School Musical” consists of a group of student athletes, longtime choral members and students who have never performed before.

“The production really brought together a diverse group of performers, and they’re really enjoying themselves,” said Carroll.

“One big advantage of doing a show that’s set in high school is it’s easy for the actors to relate to the themes and characters. They often see themselves in the characters they portray.”

Tickets are $5 for students and senior citizens and $8 for adults. Tickets can be purchased at the door on performance days.

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Carolyn R. Wilson is a freelance writer in Glade Spring, Virginia. Contact her at news@washconews.com.

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