Springfield Youth Arts Ambassadors to premiere ‘Disney’s High School Musical, Jr.’

The halls of Kenton Ridge High School were alive with the sound of music this spring. When shooting a production called “High School Musical,” an authentic location helps.

The Springfield Arts Council’s Youth Arts Ambassadors took to a place they are familiar with to do what they do best. Their production of “Disney’s High School Musical, Jr.” will be livestreamed at 7:30 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday on the Ambassadors’ and Springfield Arts Council social media and web pages.

Tickets cost $12 each and can be purchased at www.showtix4u.com/event-details/48357. A live chat will be part of the experience during the showings.

After a year of successful virtual shows in which the Ambassadors performed on Zoom, and with live productions still unable to be done, Arts Council Arts Education Director and show director Krissy Brown searched for a different approach and turned to an untested medium – video.

Given the original “High School Musical” started out as a movie and not a stage show, it made sense and at the same time provided a different performance area for Brown, sound director Jason Hanrahan and the Ambassadors to explore.

“It was brand new for me. I’d acted in costume films but never directed one,” Brown said. “The preparation was completely different. We taught ourselves.”

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With experience doing live stage musicals for six years an advantage, this was a chance to learn new skills and think creatively.

Some kids were concerned, but others were ready to tackle it. Living in the age of YouTube and TikTok was an edge for some, but shooting on video meant being quiet on the set and adjusting what you may do on stage. The set in this case was Kenton Ridge, with taping done over spring break.

“We figured this would be good to be a high school to film in instead of building sets and having to perform it somewhere else,” said Brown.

Another adjustment was doing most shows on a stage in front of a live audience, the edge of people applauding and feeding off that wasn’t there for performers. Then there was the need to lip-synch their vocals during musical numbers on camera then recording them separately to be matched in editing.

This version is set in 2021. The 30 Ambassadors perform in their masks as regulations required and rehearsals had to be done in small groups.

“High School Musical” is a newer show, relatable to several demographics. Many who were raised on it are now young adults or parents themselves and kids can identify with their peers being portrayed.

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“It will look like a movie but with local kids,” said Brown. “So many are familiar with the story and the songs. One of the things I love is as we did it, the kids were loving it and the audience will sense that when they are watching it.”

The Ambassadors return to the stage for live shows as part of the upcoming Summer Arts Festival in July. Brown said there’s also a chance they could explore doing other video projects.

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