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Take a bow, High School Musical!

High School Musical on stage at Parade Theatre, NIDA in March.

by Alison Jinga, Head of Drama and Executive Producer of High School Musical

Over 100 students from both Waverley College and St Claire’s College performed in the Parade Theatre at NIDA on March 7-9 in our bi-annual Musical Production, “High School Musical”. What an incredible experience for our young people to work in such a professional space where many famous Australian actors perform before they make it to the world stage. The buzz of excitement during our time there was certainly high.

High School Musical is an uplifting story. The main issue of young people overcoming adversity and their joy in achieving their heartfelt dreams relates to our students. High School Musical has experienced an incredible journey in becoming what it is today, having started as a TV movie, then a book, a popular feature film, and now a full scale musical theatre production.


The 'Jocks' with Angus Mullins (centre) as 'Troy'.

The ‘Jocks’  and ‘Cheerleaders’ with Angus Mullins (centre) as ‘Troy’.

Many people were involved in taking the production from the page to the stage and they are to be congratulated for this incredible achievement. Particular thanks to our wonderful Musical Director, Chris Balkizas, the Director, Lisa Shipley and the Choreographer, Jasmin Dekantios.

It is no mean feat to perform on the NIDA stage and I congratulate all the actors and the student crew on their commitment to the show. Both our schools support our young people in pursuing what they love, in this case, the arts, specifically, musical theatre. The students both on stage and off have worked tirelessly on Monday and Wednesday afternoons and on Sundays so that they could be prepared. They have done this whilst being involved in their academic pursuits and sporting commitments and they have all liberated their potential.

Ben Gabriel as 'Jack'.

Ben Gabriel as ‘Jack’.

Special mention must be made to the wonderful Year 11 and 12 Entertainment students who helped bump-in and bump-out the show as well bring props and scenic elements both on and off the stage. I was so proud of them and they certainly learnt a lot about the role of stagehands in this industry by doing an internal work placement on the show.

The Stage Crew.

The Stage Crew.

It is always bitter sweet when a production ends, it’s great to get part of one’s private life back, but it’s sad to farewell the show. We have had such wonderful feedback from Board members, parents, staff and students who came to see the show, if you missed the show, make sure you don’t miss the next one which will no doubt be staged in a wonderful new gymnasium in 2018.


Collective joy

by Chris Balkizas, Head of Music and HSM Musical Director

In Barbara Ehrenreich’s book “Dancing in the Streets” she tracks the history of collective joy in society through participation in large scale events such as carnival and musicals.

The Musical – High School Musical was certainly a large scale event with over one hundred students participating on the stage, backstage and the musicians in the orchestral pit.

From a Musical Director’s position it was wonderful to watch the students from St Clare’s and Waverley College grow and develop in musical confidence whether it was on the stage or in the band.  The band consisted of two professional musicians, two old boys and eleven current students of Waverley College.

Congratulations to all the students involved in this production and thank you to all staff that assisted me as Musical Director including A. Fahy, V. Hurley, S. Pinter, C. Blenkinsopp, H. Galletis and H. Barrington.

Such a wonderful large scale collective event certainly brought joy and a great sense of achievement that the students will cherish beyond their time at school.

Tom Kossenberg plays in the HSM band.

Tom Kossenberg, Year 12, plays in the HSM band.

My Take on Being Stage Manager

From Peter Lamb, Stage Manager

I had known I was going to be Assistant Director of High School Musical. That was challenge enough. But when it was further suggested that I should stage manage the show as well, mild terror kicked in. I’d been an actor for many years and appreciated what an important function it was.

The thought of actually being the stage manager of this rather expensive Waverley/St Clare’s co-production, staged at NIDA (my alma mater), was a little intimidating. There was nothing for it; I had to organise the heck out of myself. So, by the end of technical rehearsals (aided by my hard-working assistant – Jonathan Kupershteyn) I had eventually created the most useful tool in the Stage Manager’s tool-belt – the prompt copy. My copy of the play contained an alarming (and constantly growing) assemblage of lighting, sound, projector, video, stage crew and curtain cues (all crazily highlighted with a different coloured texter). All quite terrifying at first, but after a few runs of the show (and a lot of babysitting/indulgence from the professional NIDA crew, aided by our own dependable Entertainment boys) it started to fall into place.

I started to appreciate a few things. The first was, just like for a performer, no run is ever perfect for a stage manager. There’s always room for improvement; cues can be called faster or sooner. You live and learn. Another thing I came to appreciate was how creative the role of stage manager can be. You begin to feel the exact moment a lighting cue can be called, just the right time for that phone ring effect to end, and you also note that this becomes a collaborative creative effort.

The whole technical team – lighting desk, spot operators, sound FX, curtain-puller, stage-crew, stage manager – all exercise creative judgment in all they do, in order to make the show better. It’s not just the cast and the orchestra that makes the night. Theatre is truly a group effort. Thanks to the whole production team and the cast as well for letting me in on such a wonderful learning experience.

Jack Lynch as 'Ryan' and Ellie Naylor as 'Sharpay'.

Jack Lynch as ‘Ryan’ and Ellie Naylor as ‘Sharpay’.

Photos by Liam Molloy