May 2008

Are You Ready? Get 'Cha Head in the Game!

Author: Paula Magrini

Hilton Head Preparatory School presents High School Musical

Art appears to imitate life in Hilton Head Prep’s production of the Disney Channel’s High School Musical, playing May 1-3 at Hilton Head High School’s Performing Arts Center Venue (VPAC).

“Just like the musical’s lead character, Troy Bolton, Prep junior Ben Perry dashes back and forth between baseball practice and rehearsals on stage, in constant attempts to balance his hectic adolescent agenda,” said director, Don Hite, of Don Hite Productions. “And the same goes for his real-life best friend, Dylan Rosser, who is cast in the role of Bolton’s best buddy,” Hite added. Rosser plays varsity soccer, among other things, when he’s not rehearsing for Musical.

Is it cool to sing and dance on stage, when you’ve been repeatedly categorized as a jock throughout your high school career? This is one of the issues the popular musical addresses throughout its plot. Hite points out that there’s some serious truth to this Disney production, which started out as a movie. “This teen arts phenomenon and TV shows such as American Idol inspire kids to resist stereotypes and test their talents beyond conventional boundaries, from the playing field to center stage,” he said.

Hite provides plenty of examples of students, athletes and even coaches turned actors and actresses at Hilton Head Prep, a microcosm of the Musical backdrop with a campus life that, at times, can be strikingly reminiscent of the production’s storyline. Prep Junior, Colby Foss, who plays the show tune singing diva, Sharpay and Jarrett Nixon, her dynamic sidekick twin brother, Ryan, both know, in real life, the challenges of balancing a rigorous academic workload, after school athletic schedules and rigorous theatre production rehearsals. In spite of it all, they both happen to be top honor roll students at Prep. “It’s now very cool and acceptable to do both athletics and theatre, but we all know you have to learn the rules of time management and understand the realities of strict schedules,” said Foss.

If anyone knows the limitations of tight schedules and juggling, it’s state champion football coach, Ron Peduzzi; and yes, he too will star in Musical as the head basketball coach. “We want our students to get the most out of their high school experience. It is not odd at all to have one of our football players take off his helmet and join the chorus to sing the National Anthem at a game or rush from team practice to an evening dress rehearsal,” Peduzzi said.

Hite recalls in Prep’s previous sold-out production of Wizard of Oz, numerous gridiron defensive tackles and star basketball players were in the front row at the VPAC, applauding their buddies—the stars. He refers to the ongoing theme throughout Musical: “We’re all in this together!”

Renowned Los Angeles artist in residence, Dante Henderson, an Academy Awards choreographer, flew in to work with Prep students on the famous Disney dance sequences. Along with his LA hip-hop influence, Dante offered students this wisdom: “Sometimes school schedules conflict, and ultimately, you do have to choose, just like in real life. As we see in Disney’s Musical, there can be tension between arts and athletics, but you still reach for your dreams and learn the power of commitment.”

Hilton Head Prep’s production launches BRAVO, Hilton Head Island’s arts month, with performances May 1-3, at 7 p.m., at the public high school VPAC. For advance tickets, call 843-671-2286 ext. 278. Tickets can be purchased at the door, but pre-purchase is recommended due to the likelihood of sold-out performances.

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