Arts & Entertainment

The gang's back together for ACT's 'High School Musical 2'

When the Academy of Children's Theatre presented High School Musical in 2007, the show sold out in record time and prompted the theater group to add three additional performances.

On April 24, ACT once again will bring the Disney musical to town with High School Musical 2 in the auditorium at Hanford High School.

ACT director Linda Hoffman said she hopes the show's continued popularity will make for another sellout crowd.

"As soon as High School Musical 2 became available, ACT was first in line to get the rights," Hoffman said. "It's such a fun show and the older kids love doing it and there's sort of cult following for these movies."

The musical is packed with as much high energy as the first smash hit movie. It follows the same gang of kids from East High School to their summer jobs at Lava Springs Country Club, which is owned by the father of two of the high schoolers, Sharpay and Ryan.

ACT also has gathered a cast of young actors from the Tri-Cities and Benton City.

Josh Jackson, an 18-year-old from Kennewick, plays the role of Zeke, best friend of lead male character Troy. Though Jackson has been involved with ACT for about three years, he hadn't done any singing until he had a bit part in High School Musical a couple of years ago.

"I had a minor role in the first one but this role requires much more singing," he said. "Singing just hasn't been something I'd done much of, but I've learned so much from the people with ACT that my singing has improved greatly."

Jackson also isn't the least bit shy about moving from a minor role to a lead role, singing or not.

"I have to use 10,000 words a day or I'll die," he joked. "I talk and text all day, every day, so I'm definitely not shy. Besides, when you get on stage you tune everything else out and just get into the role."

Mark Crawford is the only member of the cast returning to play the same role he had in the first production. He plays Troy. Though he's had fun performing in both High School Musical productions, acting isn't really what the 17-year-old senior from Ki-Be High plans to study in college next year.

"Acting is great fun but it's more a hobby for me," he said. "I plan to study civil engineering and architecture at BYU next year."

Hoffman praised her cast for going the extra mile to make HSM2 more entertaining than the first.

"Disney really knows how to put together a fabulous family show," Hoffman said. "And, we're really looking forward to bringing this one alive for the community."

The cast includes Mark Crawford from Kiona-Benton High School as Troy Bolton, Sadie Gearheart of Kamiakin High as Gabriella Montez, Melissa MacFarlan of Columbia Basin College as Sharpay Evans, Drake Haren of Southridge High as Ryan Evans, Scott Forman of Kamiakin High as Chad Danforth, Erin Ballo of Kamiakin High as Taylor McKessie, Josh Jackson of CBC as Zeke Baylor, Aaron Guzman of CBC as Jack Scott, Kaylinn Turpin of CBC as Kelsi Nielson, Christina Henderson as Martha Cox and Ty Wilde from Kamiakin High as Mr. Fulton. The Sharpettes are portrayed by Amanda Salsbury, Whitney Rodgers and Whitney Stoker, all from Kamiakin High School.

Showtime is 7 p.m. April 24-25, May 1-2 with 3 p.m. matinees on April 26 and May 3. Admission is $12 for adults, $9 for ages 12-18 and $5 for kids 12 and younger. Tickets are at Tri-City area Bookworm stores, Groovey Tuesdays Thrift Store in Uptown Shopping Center in Richland or ACT office at 213 Wellsian Way in Richland. Tickets also will be available at the door.