Teens take charge in 'High School Musical'

Photo ProvidedAshlynn Morgan, left, portraying Gabriella, and Alex Vecellio as Troy rehearse a scene from "High School Musical."

DANVILLE — A group of talented teens will have audience members nearly dancing in their seats when they perform Disney's "High School Musical: On Stage!"

The show is presented by the new Teen Theatre Company of Danville, with support from DLO Musical Theatre.

Teen Theatre’s first full-length musical will be at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Dick Van Dyke auditorium at Danville High School.

The production is entirely produced, directed, and choreographed by area teens.

The teens have performed smaller shows since launching in October 2017, but this is their first real production, said producer Charlie Johnson, 18. “It’s TTCD’s shining moment.”

He’s amazed at the energy of the teens, and how they’re all working well together.

“This show has been very organized,” he said. “The teens understand each other better (than adults).”

With help from DLO, the students have handled all aspects of play production — from auditions to set design to rehearsals, and soon, opening night.

It’s directed by Isabelle Peters, with music directed by Karrin Estes and choreography by Sammi Wesner. Stage manager is Brookelyn Powell.

“High School Musical” is based on a Disney Channel original movie.

It’s the first day after winter break at East High. The jocks, brainiacs, thespians and skater dudes find their cliques, recount their vacations and look forward to the new year.

Basketball team captain and resident jock, Troy (Alex Vecellio), discovers that the brainy Gabriella (Ashlynn Morgan), a girl he met singing karaoke on his ski trip, has just enrolled at East High. They cause an upheaval when they decide to audition for the high school musical.

Although many students resent the threat posed to the “status quo,” Troy and Gabriella’s alliance might open the door for others to shine as well.

Autumn Lange plays a cheerleader in the musical, and she’s also a cheerleader at Salt Fork High School in Catlin, where she will be a sophomore.

Lange, who has performed in other shows, said, “This is my favorite musical for sure.”

The audience will like the catchy songs and dances, and they’ll be dancing in their seats, she said. “You’ll want to be up there dancing with everyone else.”

At one point, the dancers do come into the audience.

“It’s crazy, but it’s worth it,” she said of the effort to put on the musical.

The actors come from cities and schools across the area, she said, and everyone has clicked.

She said she was nervous at first about being involved in a teens-only production, but added, “It’s going really good — better than expected.”

Lange hopes to pursue an acting career.

About 30 teenagers are involved in the show.

Johnson, a graduate of Danville High who will attend Danville Area Community College this fall, said this is his first producer’s job.

“I love it,” he said, and even though things might not always be perfect, he’s learned to accept small victories.

The production is made possible in part by the John P. Cadle Foundation and the Julius W. Hegeler II Foundation.


Tickets are on sale at the door and at www.dlomusicaltheatre.com. Cost is $15 for adults and $7 for students.

Learn more about Teen Theatre Company at https://ttcdanville.org/ and its Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/TTCD2017/