As some of you may know, at the end of February I played Sharpay in Apollo Production’s youth production of High School Musical On Stage. Needless to say it was an absolute dream come true and an experience I’ll never forget.
I auditioned last July, the day after closing night of a production of Hairspray I was in. At the time, I was in a show with the director of High School Musical, as well as the girls who ended up playing Gabriella and Taylor, and the guy who played Coach Bolton. I was over the moon because I got to audition with my best friend and surrogate little brother Jimmy, which was already a dream come true. We’ve compared ourselves to Sharpay and Ryan for the 3 years we’ve known each other and just getting to do one song and one scene together was amazing! We then got cast a few weeks after a recall, and to this day, I still can’t believe we were given that opportunity.
The rehearsal period was obviously hilarious, stressful and full of memories I’ll never forget. I got to spend time with my two best friends, Georgia (the brightoner) who played Gabriella, and Jimmy, as well as making friends with a huge group of people that I’d never met before. As with every show, you end up becoming so close to every cast member and this show was no exception. I particularly enjoy blocking rehearsals, so whenever I knew I was doing a scene with Jimmy or Georgia I was incredibly excited!
I think the moment I felt most intergrated into the cast was when we performed in a fundraiser concert at the venue where we were going to do High School Musical. We were only in one song and the finale so we had loads of time to mess around in the dressing rooms and get closer. This was also the first time we’d all been in costume, even if they weren’t the ones we ended up wearing, but it was super exciting to see all the boys and girls in their basketball kits and cheerleader outfits!
Show week was obviously the highlight. Despite being absolutely knackered because I had to work during the day, it was a dream from beginning to end. I have certain pre show rituals that I’ve been doing for a while, so I always like turning up nice and early, hours before the usual call time, because rushing to get ready for a show is, in my eyes, a really bad omen! I’m not a very superstitious person but I care so much about having a good show that I daren’t risk not following my routine just in case it means I have a bad show!
My favourite part of getting ready for each show was surprisingly enough, putting my wig
on. I loved how much it transformed me from my normal self with fairly normal makeup for me, into a completely different person. I personally think it made me look a lot like my older sister, because she is also an actor and has written her own cabaret show where she plays Adele. In the show, she wears a ginger wig, and I think my Sharpay wig was the same only straight and blonde! I created a timelapse of me putting on my wig on my Instagram, so go check that out.
As I’ve already mentioned, Georgia played Gabriella, which meant that we got to share a dressing room. She is absolutely incredible at doing makeup, both her own and other peoples, so instead of doing my level best at makeup (which isn’t bad, but needs improvement), Georgia offered to do my eyeshadow and eyebrows for me every night. She is the opposite of me and likes to turn up to the theatre with hair and makeup already done and so she could take her time doing this. I tried to get a good picture of my eyeshadow each night but the lighting wasn’t the best in our dressing room so you’ll just have to take my word for it!
My favourite scene was one that isn’t in the film, where Sharpay and Ryan are rehearsing for their call back and they have an argument. There was one moment where Ryan tells Troy where to find Gabriella and when Jimmy turned around to face me, smiling, he saw a face like thunder. We are such a silly pair in real life and for the rest of the show that for both of us to keep a straight face and not laugh was near impossible for months! We ended up having to run our lines again and again until we got used to keeping a straight face, and of course, by show week, we could nail it every night.
It was definitely a show I’ll never forget, and one I am so so so grateful to be part of. Like I’ve mentioned hundreds of times, just to play Sharpay and Ryan with Jimmy made it all worth it for me!
A massive thank you is due to the lovely Katy Markey, director of High School Musical and company director for Apollo Productions – how she managed to direct the show, whilst running a theatre company, with 2 other shows on the go, be a full time mum and teacher AND put up with mine and Jimmy’s antics for 6 months I will NEVER know!
And of course, thank you so much to the rest of the cast for making it a completely unforgettable experience. Once a Wildcat, always a Wildcat!