LITTLE FALLS, NJ - Passaic Valley High School Junior Theatre cast will present "High School Musical, Jr." this weekend.
The one-act theatre musical is adapted from the animated Disney Channel film "High School Musical." Both the story and the music in this version follow the original film, a 2006 American teen/romantic comedy musical which was the first installment in the "High School Musical" trilogy.
The story centers on two high school sophomores from rival cliques. In the films, Troy Bolton is played by Zac Efron, captain of the basketball team, and Gabriella Montez is played by Vanessa Hudges, a shy transfer student who excels in math and science. They decide to try out for the lead parts in their high school musical, and wind up dividing the school. They ultimately resist peer pressure and rivalry, and inspire others to not just "stick to the status quo," like they have shown. The story depicts students of East High School dealing with issues of love, friends and family while balancing their academics and extra-curricular activities. Numerous international versions have been created, including stage musicals and video games which have been released.
Performers in the production this summer include students from Little Falls, Woodland Park, Cedar Grove, Clifton, Totowa, and Pompton Plains.
The production staff includes Michael DeLuccia, director; Cathy DeLuccia, musical director, Malinda DiPasquale, choreographer, and Jennifer Shue, producer.
The cast for the production include Kyle Berdin (Little Falls) as Troy Bolton, Mohammad Aljarrah (Little Falls) as Chad Danforth, Ian Wilson (Cedar Grove) as Zeke Baylor, Jessica Bracken (Clifton) as Gabriella Montez, Nicole Earl (Totowa) as Taylor McKessie, Maeve Wilson (Cedar Grove) as Martha Cox, Eric Silverman (Cedar Grove) as Jack Scott, Morgan Tencza (Cedar Grove) as Sharpay Evans, Chris Perez (Woodland Park) as Ryan Evans, Mallory Cestone (Little Falls) as Kelsi Nielsen, Kayla Perricelli (Totowa) as Ripper, Fiona Cathcart (Little Falls) as Mongo, Alexandra Paese (Totowa) as Coach Bolton, and Gabby Cielo (Woodland Park) as Ms. Darbus.
The ensemble cast includes Sara Castillo (Totowa), Juliana Cestone (Little Falls), Sophia Colacino (Little Falls), Sofia Cordaro (Cedar Grove), Gabi DiMattia (Cedar Grove), Gabriella Fujikawa (Clifton), Brianna Getzoff (Woodland Park), Lilyanna Ricco (Cedar Grove), Alyssa Strippoli (Pompton Plains), Sullivan Tencza (Cedar Grove), Tessa VanDam (Little Falls) and Sarah Zampella (Little Falls).
This year, junior theater participants received a special visit on July 20 from Jelany Remy, who plays the adult 'Simba" in the Broadway stage version of Disney's "The Lion King." Remy, 30, who is a Cedar Grove High School graduate, attended Montclair State University for two years before getting cast in the national tour of Disney's "High School Musical." A Disney casting agent suggested he audition for "The Lion King."
Remy also greeted students from the high school's presentation of "The Heights," during a practice session later in the day. He made a prior visit to the high school to give students in the theater program an audition workshop. He as on-hand again to give performance tips and spot check their dance moves.
"I'm impressed every time I come here," said Remy. "They're such a great group of performers. To come back and be able to coach them in a production that I was once in is very rewarding."
DeLuccia also commented on the junior production.
"The show is based off the Disney made-for-TV movie, which was a huge success," he said. "The kids are working extremely hard."
He added that the program aims to give young people a taste of what performing in theater is like.
"We try to run the performance exactly like it's done on Broadway," he noted. "This is really a fun show and I can see how much of a blast the kids having from the rehearsals."
He also commended Remy on his recent visit to the high school.
"Jelani also came by last year and it's incredible the work the kids get done when they hear from someone else. He works great with them and they react to him very well. He really knows how to get the best out of them."
This summer theater program is sponsored by the Passaic Valley Education Foundation, a non-profit organization comprised of parents, educators, alumni, and residents dedicated to the enrichment of the high school and the community it serves.
PV's High School Musical, Jr. will run this Friday, Aug. 4 and Saturday, Aug. 5 at 7 p.m. All performances will be held at Passaic Valley High School, 100 East Main St., Little Falls. Tickets can be purchased online at www.pvstheater.com. Any questions, contact Jennifer Shue at 973-890-2500, ext. 2522.