Coal City Theatre Department to present High School Musical, Jr.

ZEKE HAS A secret that he's now willing to share with everyone at East High and he does it in a big way. Zeke, played by Jonah Micetich [on table] will share his secret passion in the telling of Disney's High School Musical, Jr. that opens Thursday in the Coal City Performing Arts Center. Coal City Theater Department photo.

When Coal City Middle School held its musical in spring 2010, it was the start of something new.

It was the vision of then Superintendent Dr. Kent Bugg, to establish a middle school program that not only provided a new opportunity for students, but one that broke down barriers between student groups and fostered an enjoyment in the performing arts that would carry over into high school.

The show taking the stage that spring spoke to the vision and it brought students together who might not have otherwise crossed paths. The show was a success and many of the student performers continued in theater when they made the move to high school showing that when it comes right down to it, they truly are all in it together.

That show, High School Musical Jr., is back 13 years later to the Coal City Performing Arts Center this weekend as a new group of middle school students will share the all important message that you can do anything you want to do. That, as students, you can be an academic involved in athletics, you can perform on stage, you can write a play or a piece of music. Simply put, you can be involved in anything that interests you.

The story is told through a group of students who come together when two teens—an athlete and a brainiac—meet while singing in a karaoke contest. Little do they know at the time their paths would once again cross and their friendship would break down barriers at their high school.

At East High, Troy Bolton is not only the star basketball player, but the most popular kid in school. When Troy, played by Coal City Middle School seventh grader Connor Rodriguez, meets Gabriella Montez over winter break he has no idea she’s about to be the new girl at school. The role of Gabriella is played in this production by eighth grader Gianna Carver.

On her first day at East High, Gabriella reconnects with Troy in the high school hallway and from that point on there is little Troy can focus on but his New Year’s Eve duet with Gabriella.

As she settles into her new school, Gabriella meets the head of the school’s science decathlon team and she ends up signing up for the team, a decision that makes Sharpay Evans, head of the thespians, happy as she and her brother, Ryan, will do just about anything to keep from losing their leading roles. The Evans siblings are played by eighth grader Lexi Dearth and Tyson Harding.

When auditions for the winter musical are announced, Sharpay and Ryan hatch a plan to ensure the new girl at school does not audition. But does the plan work out as Sharpay hopes and does Troy get a chance to sing one more time with Gabriella? Those questions will be answered with High School Musical, Jr., takes the stage for three performances beginning Thursday, Nov. 9.

The nearly 60-member cast is looking forward to showing audiences what they have been working on and that even a “Hoops Dude” can be a “musical singer person.”

Over 120 sixth, seventh and eighth graders auditioned for the musical in late August. The cast has been working on the show ever since with weekly vocal, choreography and blocking rehearsals.
Joining Rodriguez, Carver, Dearth and Harding on stage are: Maddox Meents as Chad Danforth; Jolene Jones as Taylor McKessie; Kennedy Larson as Ms. Darbus; Aidan Morgan as Coach Bolton; Victorya Morales as Kelsi Nielson; Jonah Micetich as Zeke Taylor; Maggie Carlson as Martha Cox, Brady Pierson as Jack Scott and Cianna-Renee McKee as Ms. Tenny.

Also, Gabrielle Hamilton, Derek Maxwell, Brantley Brooks, Penny D’Arcy, Liv Ferrari, Adyson Planeta, Amelia Kramer, Addy Mullenhruch, Allyson Togliatti, Alyson Shelton, Ben Sutlter, Binsley Stramaglia, Bradley Street, Brody Promis, Caroline Grunwald, Carson Picchi, Cele Gordon, Cora Bill, Eathyn Rivera, Emma D’Orazio, Emma Sinkular, Gabby Byers, Giavella Carver, Haley Johnson, Hayden Kennell, Isabella Street, Jackson Hollis, Jaycee Chase, Jelenie Opyd, Jurnee Marie Yvonne Moore, Katherine Veronda, Kenslee Balduf, Kinley Neary, Marina Figge, Patrick Doerfler, Payton Boyd, Pearl Friddle, Promise Walker, Rylie Peters, Teigan Trofimchuck, Tess Jeschke, Tristan Brncich and Victoria Burns.

High School Musical, Jr. is based on the Disney original movie High School Musical and is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International.

The show opens at 7 p.m. Thursday with shows at 7 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 11 and Sunday, Nov. 12 at 2 p.m. Advanced tickets are available at Any remaining seats will be sold at the door beginning one hour prior to the show. On site sales are cash only with adult tickets at $8 and students/senior citizens at $5.