“High School Musical, Jr.” Filled with Joyous Fun

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Quinn Calof and Maggie Deham play Troy and Gabriella in “High School Musical, Jr.”                            Photo: Lesly Hall

How can a resident keep a smile on their face and be happy for almost 24 hours? Easy. Go to Theatre Palisades Youth Production of High School Musical, Jr.

CTN previewed the show on Wednesday and is still smiling a day later.

The pure joy and enthusiasm that nearly 41 youth bring to the stage, make this a show worth seeing. With a wide-range of ages (third graders through high school freshman) and a variety of talents, director Ganz has scored with this production.

Before they went on stage, Ganz told her young actors, “feel your characters” and “tell their story.” They did exactly that and the joy and smiles they brought to their roles was absolutely delightful. This reviewer laughed out loud several times.

Ganz hasn’t made it easy on herself. The director is committed to having all her young actors experience major roles, which means lead roles are double, triple and quadruple cast. There are two Troys, three Ryans, three Sharpays and three Gabriellas. One could go to show on multiple nights and see different actors performing.

Disney’s High School Musical JR centers on the blossoming relationship between Troy, a high school jock, and Gabriella, the new smart girl at school.

The two meet on a family vacation and become attracted to each other while singing in a karaoke competition.

Back at school, their surprise decision to audition together for the school show are thwarted by the school’s current leading lady, Sharpay, her brother Ryan, and Gabriella’s well-meaning friends.

Gigi Merz as Sharpay and Callum Ganz as Ryan were hysterical.
Photo: Lesly Hall

Choreographers Rebecca Brancato Barragan, Mark Marchillo and Aaron Jung have worked wonders. On one number on this tiny stage, they managed to have 28 performers execute dance steps and moves that are a step above what one might expect for a youth musical. This reviewer particularly liked the Get’Cha Head in the Game, which was executed by Troy and the jocks—complete with mini-basketballs.

The show is produced by Laura Dicterow with musical direction by Nathan Heldman.

The talented cast includes Alexa Campos, Alexis Levine, Amelie Barragan, Anna Moore, Annalise O’Riordan, Anniela Kahala, Billie Rance, Callum Ganz, Daisy Oldfield, Dali Son, Dominic Kelly Longo, Elias VonOeyen, Eloise Hansford, Genevieve Merz, Greta Barrett, Haakon Knap, Henry Rance, Jaya Lewis, Kade Craft, Kieran Calof, Lily Grunauer, Lily Maya Carrillo, Luca Gazerra Ferro, Maggie Denham, Matthew Schacter, Mia Faragalla, Mireille Ganz, Molly Levitt, Morgan Stoler, Natalie Wallin, Quinn Calof, Ryan Grunauer, Sabrina Hall, Scarlett Shelton, Sienna Nocas, Sienna Sandefer, Sylvie Levitt, Tristan Oles, Tyler Levine, Violet Sanford, Vivienne Kooker, Yara Sinai and Zoë Dusig.

The cast members hail from Palisades High School, Paul Revere Middle School, Palisades and Marquez Elementary Schools, Corpus Christi, St. Monica’s and from schools as far away as Pasadena and Agoura Hills.

Showtimes are Fridays, February 24 and March 3 at 7 p.m., Saturdays February 25 at 2 and 5 p.m. and Saturday, March 4, at 2, 5, and 7 p.m. Sunday February 26 at 2 and 5 p.m. and March 5 at 2 p.m. There will also be a Thursday show on March 2 at 7 p.m. The Pierson Playhouse is located at 941 Temescal Canyon Road. Tickets are $22, with senior/student tickets $17.

Shows sell out, so purchase tickets early online at threaturepalisades.org/youth/.

This Theatre Palisades Youth cast of 43 performers are waiting to entertain residents.                      Photo: Lesly Hall

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