De Soto teen branches out with Theatre in the Park
There wasn’t a fireworks display for Shawnee this year, but the sparks are flew at Theatre in the Park’s rendition of High School Musical.
The popular Disney franchise of High School Musical kicked off a three week run at Theatre in the Park June 26. The production is unlike any other previously performed at TTIP as all but two cast members are students.
Mill Valley High School students Katie Hollis, 2009 graduate, and Kelsie Schuman, junior, and De Soto High School junior Cora Schimke are just a few young thespians to make up the cast.
Katie plays Sharpay Evans, the head thespian at East High School in New Mexico.
“She’s pretty much gotten the leads every year,” Katie said of her character. “She thinks she’s pretty much all that.”
Kelsie plays Kelsie Nielson the composer of the high school’s yearly musical.
“She’s the awkward, klutzy composer,” Kelsie said.
Cora plays one of the many cheerleaders in the production.
“We do a lot of the dancing and of course we cheer on the basketball boys,” Cora said. “So, we’re mostly with the jocks and all goo-goo-gaga over Troy.”
Katie performed in previous Theatre in the Park productions of West Side Story, Bye Bye Birdie and Grease, while Kelsie and Cora are making their TTIP debut.
Still, all three have extensive experience in productions at their own high schools.
“I did musicals all four years and a couple of shows out at Starlight,” Katie said. “I’ve had lead parts in my high school plays but this is the biggest in Theatre in the Park.”
Cora said Theatre in the Park sparked her interest as a way to branch out.
“I’ve been in theatre since middle school, and I’m big into dance. I’ve danced since I was three,” she said. “So, I thought about combining with others not just in my school. I love how tight and close the cast is. It’s a great experience to perform in front of a lot of people. There are eleven shows for High School Musical, so it’s a long process.”
The stage production of High School Musical differs slightly from the original Disney movie.
Katie, Kelsie and Cora were familiar with High School Musical before joining the TTIP cast, but warn the changes make the production even better.
“There’s actually some different songs,” Katie said. “The is quite a bit that is different, but people won’t be disappointed.”
Kelsie’s character received a love interest in the stage version, something that was never mentioned in the movie.
Katie’s experience this year differs from previous summers at TTIP.
“It’s definitely very different,” she said. “Besides that the cast is made of all high schoolers, except two adults. It’s set in a more present era, which makes a completely different vibe for the show.”
The name recognition for High School Musical is sure to bring droves of theatre-goers to Shawnee Mission Park, Katie said.
“High School Musical in itself is a pretty big name,” she said. “People that haven’t seen the movie have heard of it and a lot of kids love it.”
Tracie Holley, Theatre in the Park coordinator, said attendance for the first weekend of the show wasn’t available yet, but because of weather attendance was a bit low.
High School Musical continues its run Thursday through Sunday. Gates open at 7:30 p.m. at 7710 Renner Road.
Next up for Theatre in the Park is The Wedding Singer opening July 17.