Cathy Wang is a senior writer for The Talon.
High School Musical: Los Altos Edition
February 11, 2020
“High School Musical” is the first theater production senior Max Silver has ever been a part of. And he played Troy Bolton.
Playing such an iconic role, and the lead for that matter, understandably had Max nervous for Los Altos’s first musical in three years. Nonetheless, he was more excited than anything—music has always been a big part of his life. He started playing the piano around 10 years ago and later learned guitar and ukulele. It wasn’t until a couple years ago that he started singing along with what he played. Since then, he’s performed at family get-togethers like his sister’s bat mitzvah or his mom and step dad’s wedding.
The musical, though not the most obvious next step, was something Max knew he wanted to try out.
“I have two cousins who were part of the choir and musicals at Gunn High School and I always admired them for it,” Max said. “My friends in Broken Box told me about the musical and asked if I might be interested in being a part of it, to which I enthusiastically said yes.”
Once auditions rolled around, Max decided to try out for a lead role, not expecting much from it. But it paid off, and he felt both “surprised and immediately nervous.” Although, as he admitted, the extent of his experience took place in Acting I his sophomore year he figures, as he puts it, “It’s my senior year and I want to try something new, try out something bigger, take a bigger risk.”
Senior Daniela Gloster has never liked being the center of attention. In fact, she feels like she’s going to throw up every time she gives a presentation. Yet Daniela has been in over 20 shows and played Gabriella Montez in Los Altos’s production of “High School Musical.”
In reality, she grew up in a musical family: Her older sister was also involved in theater and her father was a dedicated cellist. At the age of seven, Daniela decided to try out for “The Chronicles of Narnia” at the Peninsula Youth Theater (PYT), and from there, she went on to spend the next decade of her life committed to theater. Despite her commitment, as her sister snagged leads (getting the lead her senior year in Los Altos’s 2016 musical), Daniela was often cast in ensemble roles. But she kept going.
“There’s just something about being on stage that’s just exhilarating,” Daniela said. “It’s horrible up until the second I go on stage, and then I’m just there and my mind is clearer than it tends to be in everyday life.”
Now, just like her sister, Daniela played the lead in the school musical. And for Daniela, Gabriella has been a dream role.
“I told my mom that Gabriella’s kind of the dream,” Daniela said. “She’s high school epitomized and for someone like me who’s kind of a dork and not super out there it’s really cool to see her having a big voice in the school. Playing her was always in the back of my head as something that I really wanted to do.”
“High School Musical” was senior Sophia Sturiale’s 21st show and yet she has never played a role as bold as Sharpay Evans.
“Normally, I play the sweet, ingenue girl or a mother figure,” Sophia said. “Sharpay has a really big personality and I’ve never played a character that’s so over the top like she is.”
Nevertheless, Sophia has had years of theater experience. She started at theater camp as a child and eventually acted in productions at local theater companies such as the Peninsula Youth Theater, the Los Altos Youth Theatre and the Los Altos Stage Company. Sophia is also a current Broken Box student.
“I started theater at a summer camp when I was a kid,” she said. “I think I did it because I’ve always really liked singing and music so I thought it’d be interesting to try out musicals.”
Sophia’s love for singing and performing arts has stemmed into a passion that she doesn’t plan to say goodbye to anytime soon. She plans to double major in theater in college.
“Performing is exhilarating and it’s something I feel like I can look back on and be really proud of,” she said. “If, in future years, other people are not sure whether or not they should try out, definitely try out because it’s a really really fun experience.”
Out of the entire main cast of “High School Musical,” it’s safe to say senior Michael Tucker as Ryan Evans had the most absurd wardrobe, compared to his sister Sharpay’s lavish choice of fashion. He had a combination of eight hats, including a sparkly fedora, vests, button ups and a jockey covered in sequins. But still the costume designers had trouble finding some outfits.
Michael has had an extensive experience with theater just like some of his co-stars. And luckily, he’s learned a few things along the way that’s helped him succeed in the act.
“When I performed in my first show, ‘Charlotte’s Web,’ I hated it,” he said. “I was terrified of the auditions, the directors kept yelling at people, and I had practically no friends. But by the end of the production, I was begging my parents to sign me up for another play. You can never do something amazing if you don’t even try.”
Theater has taught Michael important lessons: to be adventurous and try new things, like having to wear uncanny costumes. But most importantly, that those working with you are some of the most amazing people you’ll ever meet.
“Theater is family to most people, you form incredible bonds with those that you perform with,” he said. “I know no other group of people that are so free and open about themselves. Anyone who has even the slightest urge to try out theater, do it. At worst, you don’t like it and you never do it again, but at best, you find an amazing new hobby and something that will influence the rest of your life.”
Another newcomer to “High School Musical”—though mostly in age and not so much experience—was freshman Logan Kim who secured the major role of Chad Danforth.
Logan is no stranger to theater, having started in fourth grade. For a while, theater was nothing more than, as he puts it, “messing around” until he auditioned for a community show in eighth grade.
From then on—and after more involvement in the summer—Logan’s relationship with theater changed. Before, he explained, he was consistently involved but his “heart and soul” wasn’t going into the activity. Now, he’s begun to, more and more, appreciate the process, the people and the effect these shows can have.
“There’s a really rewarding feeling walking out the doors after a show and having people congratulate you and seeing that they’ve enjoyed it,” Logan said. “It’s a very rewarding thing that both you and other people enjoyed it.”
“High School Musical,” which many grew up watching, no doubt entertained many. But, it was different from other shows Logan’s been in. “High School Musical” had been, as he saw it, much higher caliber, with an accelerated timeline, higher expectations and more ambitious goals. The intensity didn’t make it any less fun for Logan and, next year, he intends to try out for Broken Box and continue his theater career at Los Altos.
Musical theater isn’t new to senior Jessica Aaron. Jessica has been in productions since she was three years old and, at this point, has participated in over 50 shows. But “High School Musical” and her character Taylor McKessie presented a unique challenge: playing a relatively normal character in a highly energetic musical. And judging by the way she smiled and called this juxtaposition “fun,” she was more than willing to take on the challenge.
And her lifetime love of theater is probably to blame for this attitude. Since she was little, Jessica had high energy and her mom helped her channel that energy into theater. Because she was so young, Jessica started with attending camps or after school programs at the Peninsula Youth Theater (PYT). By the time she was of age to be in a PYT show (eight), Jessica, as she describes it, “begged [her] mom to let [her] audition.” And Jessica’s love for theater has only grown since then.
“Theater kids are some of the most exuberant, energetic, caring, open-minded people I’ve ever met,” Jessica said. “It’s so fun to hang out with them backstage and then go on stage and be a different person, interacting with different people, telling a story and just connecting with an audience. There’s no feeling quite like it.”
In “High School Musical,” this was no different. Jessica expressed her excitement for being in a cast with people she’s known since she was a kid as well as those she’s never met before. She plans on continuing her involvement in college, participating in student productions and the drama department.