HHS’s High School Musical: Cast Interviews


Marifel Miguel, Chief Editor

After a 2-year hiatus, HHS’s Spring Musical is finally back and made its debut on April 28 with the beloved and iconic musical High School Musical. High School Musical premiered on Disney Channel on January 6, 2006 with Hollywood Stars Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens playing the lead roles of Troy and Gabriella. High School Musical follows Troy, East High’s star basketball player, and Gabriella the smart new girl as not only their friendship, but unexpected musical audition, threatens East High’s social order. Even though it was released over 15 years ago, High School Musical’s legacy is an undeniable one with its catchy songs, cast, and fun characters. It’s a movie that inspired many to not “stick to the status quo”, be yourself, and do what you love no matter what anyone says. Recently I was able to speak with the amazingly talented cast of High School Musical on their thoughts on opening night, favorite scenes, their characters, and what it was like doing a musical in comparison to a traditional play.

The Clarion: How do you feel about opening night excited, nervous, a little of both?

  • Dan Sokolski(Troy Bolton): I’m slightly nervous, but the most nerve-wracking part of it is going to be the first scene because as the show goes on people become more and more comfortable on stage. It’s also the first part where I sing, which doesn’t help. Overall though I’m really excited because I absolutely love playing my character and the show in general is so much fun and requires a lot of energy.
  • Natalie Poma(Gabriella Montez): I am so nervous about opening night since this is my first musical with a lead role. I’ve never really been much of a singer, mostly because I was afraid so this would be my first time showcasing my voice.
  • Colin Huffman(Chad Danforth): Opening night is super nerve-racking, but so exciting knowing that we’re going to finally be performing the show, especially because of our close-knit cast. There’s an immense sense of community, love, and chaos that keeps us going until we get on stage and become the characters we’ve been so looking forward to playing.
  • Leah Schell(Taylor McKessie): Opening night is pretty scary to think about at times, but overall I’m really excited!
  • Bella Puluse(Sharpay Evans): I’m super excited about opening night!! I’m a little nervous too, but I know it’s going to be an amazing show and I’m ready to have so much fun on stage!
  • Estelle Barbieri(Ryan Evans): I am so excited for opening night! It’s always a little bit nerve-wracking, but we’ve been working hard for the last couple of months and I am so excited for the audience to see the show!
  • Sophia Basilone(Ms. Darbus): I’m nervous and excited for opening night, but I’m confident my fellow cast and crew will pull it off! 
  • Coach Bolton(Adrian Pani): I feel very excited to take part in this play as I am interested in the play. Of course, it’s natural to feel a bit nervous but I feel more anxious with excitement as I wait for the play to start!

The Clarion Is there a scene/musical number in particular that are you most excited for the audience to see?

  • Dan Sokolski(Troy Bolton): I would say I’m most excited for people to see “Getcha Head in the game” The musical version of the song has a lot more energy to it and is quite different from the movie. At certain parts, it can be very over the top and funny, and we have been working really hard on the choreo, which is also great!
  • Natalie Poma(Gabriella Montez): I absolutely adore the cafeteria scene where the students are “sticking to the status quo.”
  • Colin Huffman(Chad Danforth): There are so many awesome scenes and numbers in High School Musical that I’m excited for the audience to see and that I know they’ll love! Some standout songs for me are Getcha’ Head in The Game and Counting On You which are so fun to perform and dramatic! We’re All in This Together is still iconic and Troy and Gabriella in I Can’t Take My Eyes Off You get us all dancing backstage. Most of the show’s scenes are hilarious and infectiously goofy and it’s overall such a fantastic show!
  • Leah Schell(Taylor McKessie): I’d have to say the scene I’m most excited for people to see is the final number “We’re All in This Together” due to how much time and practice we put into the choreography.
  • Bella Puluse(Sharpay Evans): There are so many great musical numbers, but my personal favorite is Status Quo, and the most exciting part is the surprise that comes at the end of the song.
  • Estelle Barbieri(Ryan Evans): I think my absolute favorite song in the show is Status Quo. I also can’t wait for everyone to see Sharpay and Ryan’s over-the-top audition songs!
  • Sophia Basilone(Ms. Darbus): The scene I love the most is the gym scene in act 2, I get to yell as loud as I can and it’s so fun to do! 
  • Coach Bolton(Adrian Pani): I am most excited for the audience to see Act II Scene 3 as it has very interesting character development between my character(Coach Bolton) and Daniel Sokolski( Troy Bolton). I can’t wait to see the audience’s reaction!

The Clarion: Since the characters from High School are absolute icons, what was your reaction to finding out what character you got, and was there something about this character that made you the most excited to play them?

  • Dan Sokolski(Troy Bolton): My initial reaction was utter shock accompanied by uncontrollable excitement. I absolutely love playing Troy Bolton as I can relate to him in many ways. There’s a youthful and imaginative quality to him that I absolutely adore, as he really opens up as the musical progresses. 
  •  Natalie Poma(Gabriella Montez): I was stunned to see I got the role of Gabriella. I auditioned for her at the last minute for fun since this would be my last show and thought that I wouldn’t lose anything for auditioning. What made me most excited is that I was living out a childhood dream. I mean, growing up you look up to these characters in movies, especially one as iconic as “High School Musical.” As a child, I wanted to be Gabriella; smart, kind, and talented!
  • Colin Huffman(Chad Danforth): When I found out about getting cast as Chad I was so thankful and happy to be playing my favorite character from High School Musical! I remember not being able to stop thinking about playing him after the cast list was posted. He is so iconic and his overall relaxed yet slightly angry typical jock attitude made me more thrilled to portray him. However, I can’t say this without thanking everyone in the loving theater department for helping me play his character, casting me as him, and encouraging me to do my best. They’re the main reason why I had so much fun and loved every second of being with them, they’re genuinely all so talented and amazing people.
  • Leah Schell(Taylor McKessie): When I first got cast as Taylor I was mostly just a bit excited to have a bigger part, but as we’ve been practicing I’ve really grown to love playing her and acting with all the energy she brings to stage.
  • Sharpay Evans(Bella Puluse): I was so excited when I found out that I would be playing Sharpay because she is sassy and dramatic, and her character is so bold. I knew it would be so fun to play her!
  • Estelle Barbieri(Ryan Evans): Although I hadn’t originally auditioned to play Ryan, I was absolutely thrilled when I found out I was going to play him. His character is totally over the top, and dramatic, his songs are so fun to sing and I absolutely love my costumes this year! I also love his gradually developing confidence throughout the show! The best part however is that I get to be scene partners with Bella, it’s been so fun to bounce energy off of each other and I could not imagine performing alongside anyone else.
  • Sophia Basilone(Ms. Darbus): I originally auditioned for Ms. Darbus and I was so excited when I found out I’m getting to play this amazing, dramatic, and eccentric character!
  • Coach Bolton(Adrian Pani): I was very surprised to find I was playing coach Bolton in this production! I was very excited once I read the scenes because I was full of ideas on how I could take this character in an interesting direction.

The Clarion: How has doing the musical been different from a traditional play? Is it more fun, challenging, or a little of both?

  • Dan Sokolski(Troy Bolton): Well in a literal fashion, there’s a lot more that goes into a good musical. You have choreography, singing, music, and scene changes (more in general), alongside line delivery. Personally, I enjoy Musicals more because I’m really into music and storytelling, but I don’t think plays or musicals are better than one another. They each got their own strengths and weaknesses
  • Natalie Poma(Gabriella Montez): This has been 100% more challenging. With the number of scene changes, it gets super hectic backstage. For me, the most challenging part was trying to reach Gabriella’s voice range. She has very high notes to sing which took me a long time to learn how to reach those and switching from low to high ranges. 
  • Colin Huffman(Chad Danforth): Since I haven’t done a musical in years the transition from doing a play to a musical, while difficult and odd at first, became a blast and extremely memorable once I got used to and understood the show. There are a lot more scene changes, choreography, songs, and more that have to be learned, unlike plays where they normally have less scene changes and no songs. All of the challenges that come with the musical, however, make it what it is and I will always cherish our annoyingly fun and sometimes spontaneous bursts of song lyrics that we all blurt out to each other. GABRIELA? TROY? WHAT’S UP? WHAT’S GOING ON?
  • Leah Schell(Taylor McKessie): Doing a musical uses a lot more energy than a traditional play does, and some aspects can make it a bit more challenging, but overall they are really fun to perform in!
  • Sharpay Evans(Bella Puluse): It is definitely both fun and challenging, but the fun makes it worth it! There’s lots of commitment and energy that goes into a musical, but it’s also super fun and an amazing experience.
  • Estelle Barbieri(Ryan Evans): The musical is a lot more lighthearted and upbeat, it’s a lot of fun, and while the dancing and singing make things a bit harder to learn, it makes the show even more spectacular!
  • Sophia Basilone(Ms. Darbus): The musical is certainly different from the play in the way that we prepare for it. In addition to lines and setting scenes, we also work on choreography and music. For me personally, it was a lot more work since I am also the choreography director for the show, but it also made it that much more fun!
  • Coach Bolton(Adrian Pani): The musical has been different as , in addition to learning lines, I have also had to learn new songs and their associated dance which can make it stressful at the beginning. But once I learn these interesting new songs, It makes for a very fun time as we dance together as the cast and we experiment to create interesting productions for the public to view!

Be on the lookout for part 2 with more interesting interviews from director Ms. Marchelle Roniet, choreographer Sophia Basilone, and seniors Estelle Barbieri and Natalie Poma!