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Estancia staging 'High School Musical'

Students overwhelmingly relate to the Disney classic and give thumbs-up over other options.

April 30, 2014|By Rhea Mahbubani
  • Cast member Mayra Figueroa (Darbus) of the Estancia High's drama department, rehearses for Disney's High School Musical.
Cast member Mayra Figueroa (Darbus) of the Estancia High's… (Don Leach, Daily…)

When Pauline Maranian brought up "High School Musical" as an option for Estancia High School's annual production, one of her students burst into tears.

Alarmed, the drama teacher rushed to ask what was wrong, only to be reassured that the waterworks were prompted by happiness.

Such has been the overwhelmingly positive response to the Costa Mesa school's Disney-inspired production, Maranian remarked.

"These kids were crazy for this show," she said. "They went wild when I just mentioned it. They were on the edge of their seats, crossing their fingers and praying that I would choose it."

Maranian, who makes it a point to consult her students, recalled tossing around ideas including "Catch Me If You Can," "Legally Blonde," "Honk!" and "Merrily We Roll Along." When it came down to the wire, though, she went with "High School Musical" because of the enthusiasm and nostalgia it illicited from them. Not only does it have the potential to draw a big crowd, she said, but it will also perfectly round out the season, which began in the fall with a dark comedy, "Big Love."

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"These kids were about 8 or 9 when the movie came out, so it's part of their childhood," Maranian said. "It's their generation's version of 'Grease.' They're in that age bracket right now where there's a window of opportunity. In a few years, the kids who I have won't have been as attached to 'High School Musical' as these kids, so it's very appealing to their age group and their peers."

The show will be presented in the Robert B. Wentz Theater at Newport Harbor High School from Thursday to Saturday. A contract and royalty fees ensure that guests will be treated to an authentic Disney experience; the Estancia team will not be permitted to diverge from the story.

The original film, released in 2006 and starring Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale and Corbin Bleu, was shot at Salt Lake City-based East High School and Murray High School as well as other parts of the city.

A tremendous success story for Disney Channel Original Movie, it was followed first by a television sequel, "High School Musical 2," and then by the feature film, "High School Musical 3: Senior Year." With a soundtrack that became that year's highest-selling album in the United States, "High School Musical" tells the tale of two juniors, Troy Bolton and Gabriella Montez, and their classmates.

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