Amazing Teenage Thespians Invigorate Drama on Mooresville Stage
High School Musical rocks! Mooresville Community Children’s Theatre (MCCT) production of the Disney adaptation at the Charles Mack Citizen Center stage is magnificent! A cast of 29 talented teenage thespians, supported by an efficient behind the scenes crew, keeps the musical jumping with outstanding choreographed cheers, dances, songs, and clear delivery of the storyline.
Mooresville native Steven James, High School Musical’s director and choreographer, deserves a standing ovation. The energetic dances and cheerleading routines enthusiastically executed in amazingly creative detail could easily compete with Broadway troupes. “Get’cha Head in the Game,” a spirited dance performed with precise bouncing basketballs is incredible! I could watch that number repeatedly over again.
James, along with Lighting Designer Robyn Warfield, also created the production’s efficient two-story set where the talented teenagers deliver the story. Warfield’s unique lighting design highlights nearly two dozen rollicking musical numbers rendered by the leaping, graceful, high kicking, wriggling corps of youthful dancers.
Wendi Choiniere’s costume designs match the scenes perfectly, featuring ordinary casual high school garb, cheerleading and basketball uniforms, flashy dance formals, and party duds.
Based on the Disney original TV version, High School Musical, written by David Simpatico, relates the struggle between typical basketball jocks and arts enthusiasts who want to try out for the school’s musical play.
Teenagers in MCCTs production are students from schools throughout the area, including Mooresville High School, Lake Norman High School, Community School of Davidson, Northwest School of the Arts, Liberty Preparatory Academy, Pinelake Preparatory Academy, and Central Piedmont Community College’s high school program. Others have been home schooled.
The impressive cast is headed by Griffin Small playing Troy Bolton, captain of the winning basketball team, who secretly wishes to try out for the school play, knowing he could be ostracized by his teammates. Troy recognizes the talented voice of Gabriella Montez, portrayed by Zoe Gardner, and falls for her while rehearsing duets with the show’s pianist composer Kelsie Neilson, portrayed by Emerson Bishop.
High School Musical’s antagonist Sharpay Evans, played by Cassidy Wade, who flirts unsuccessfully with Troy, believes she deserves the lead in the play and cheats trying to get the role. Her submissive cohort is the flexible dancer Ryan Evans, portrayed by Garret Macintyre.
While Chad Danforth, played by Nic Senyitko, backs up his teammate Troy, he becomes interested in Taylor McKessie, portrayed by Gracie Bryant who also favors Troy and Gabriella for the leading roles.
Basketball player Zeke Baylor, performed by John Harris, bakes a cake for Sharpay but unfortunately smashes it into her outfit, observed by Cheerleader Martha Cox, portrayed by Ally Daniels.
Drama Department Director Ms. Darbus, performed by Olivia Durham, teaches students how to loosen up their acting potential by cavorting as animals, an entertaining scene where Ensemble Dancer Conor Bryant slowly slithers along the stage as an inchworm.
Wilson Macintyre portrays the demanding Coach Bolton whose only interest is winning the game. School announcements are made by Jack Scott, played by Jake Caolo.
The outstanding Ensemble dancers and cheerleaders include Hadley Ashcraft, Ayden Berisha, Cadence Blum, Hudson Blum, Mia O’Brien, Anascott Bryan, Faith Cehelsky, Rover Daniels, Hannah King, Mikayla Lenahan, Luci Lopez-Carroll, Katie McClellan, Tyler Senyitko, Ingrid Seiga, Zoe Sigmon and Kathleen White.
MCCT’s interest in young actors reaches beyond their experience on stage. Twenty-two youths have been awarded the Clayton Miller Memorial Scholarship, established in honor of the theatre company’s founder, since 2020.
This year’s recipient is Lexia Gianopoulos, who will enter Furman University this Fall to pursue degrees in Public Policy and Broadcast Journalism. Lexia began to perform on MCCT’s stage as a fifth grader in Aladdin and attributes “much of her confidence and future pursuits to the early exposure to performing arts.”
MCCTs High School Musical is an enthralling show to be enjoyed by theatre buffs of all ages, including adults. The choreography is among the best I’ve seen anywhere. The enthusiasm is catching. The teenage thespians are impressive. The show is spectacular!
High School Musical performances continue at 7:30 each night this week through Saturday. Two matinee shows are scheduled at 2 o’clock on Saturday and Sunday afternoon.
Connie Fisher, neé Consuelo Carmona, is a Davidson resident who grew up in Mexico City where she became a journalist and acquired a taste for the theatre. Her preference for work behind the scenes, led to an interest in writing reviews—Yale Rep among her favorite troupes. Connie is the author of Doing it the Right Way, the biography of an Italian hatmaker. Her prose appears with 87 other international writers in The Widows’ Handbook. An active member of Charlotte Writers’ Club North, currently she is writing chapters of memoir and continues to review theatre in the Lake Norman area.