King Alfred's Academy's annual production this year brought the classic film High School Musical to the stage. The American musical TV film franchise, that first premiered on Disney Channel in 2006, follows the story of two high school students, Troy Bolton and Gabriella Montez, who come from different backgrounds but share a passion for music.  

As is tradition each year, King Alfred's Academy puts on a musical annually, and students from Year 9 and above are given the opportunity to take part. In addition to the singing, dancing, and acting, a live band performs the music for the show, playing the iconic soundtrack of High School Musical to amazingly high quality.  

The popularity of High School Musical is undeniable, with both cast and audience members relating to the teenage romantic comedy genre. The musical has remained a hit amongst all audiences for many years. 

I recently had the opportunity to interview one of the student performers, Rosa, who portrayed the character of Taylor McKessie, one of the six main characters in the story. Her insight was invaluable, providing a behind-the-scenes look at the production, her personal thoughts on the musical storyline, and shedding light on why High School Musical remains such a popular film and stage show to this day. 

Here are some of our musings: 

What made you want to audition for the production? 


"I was inspired to audition because I had been in the production in year 9 but it didn’t go ahead. I had always wanted to take part in the production as so many of the previous ones I had seen were really good and really entertaining.”  


How did you relate to your character? 


“Taylor McKessie was the character I wanted to play the most as she appeared to be fun and had a lot to say. I resonated with some of her character traits too.”  


I followed up with some more detailed questions, which gathered insight into Rosa's favourite moments from the production and the benefits of stepping out of ones comfort zone and trying something new. 

Was there a particularly memorable moment for you during the show? 

“My favourite moment on stage was (the song) 'Status Quo', because once we’d learnt doing it on stage - everyone put their all into it! Everyone had fun and it was super upbeat. 'Breaking Free' also stood out for me as it represented a coming together of the entire cast in a moment of unified song and dance. It made me put my all into it because the energy of everyone else pushed me to enjoy it even more.”  

What messages does the production convey? Why do you think that HSM resonates so well with people?  

“The overall message of High School Musical is about being yourself in its entirety. Don’t put yourself into boxes - you can be everything that you are and you don’t have to limit yourself to one thing, if you have multiple different interests.”  

“I think High School Musical resonates with people now because it's quite nostalgic. Many people grew up around it; the songs were pretty famous and our generation is mostly familiar with it as a lot of us grew up watching it. I think it’s a silly, fun and random movie which is one of the things that makes people love it so much, because there are so many ridiculous elements. Nowadays, a lot of movies and musicals portray deep themes to make you think. While many audiences appreciate the deep meaning behind musicals, sometimes you just want to sit down and watch things without real meaning or complex themes that make us look at the world around us and think we are doomed. We’ve all got problems, whether they're personal or wider world, but I think people love knowing there is still an element of silliness - the ridiculous girl meets guy... two days later they’re in love - kind of scenario. High School Musical is comforting as you can escape into a lighter hearted kind of entertainment that is stress free and enjoyable.”  

How has your involvement in the production influenced your personal growth?   

“I would say that the production has helped to increase my confidence in general - not in the sense that I can go up to people and talk to them - but it’s made me realise that if I want to do something, then I should just sign up... or put in that application, and maybe it will go through because I can actually do it. So, I think that it's solidified some personal confidence I've had in myself and made me more outwardly confident. I thought that I would go into the production and it would be terrifying standing on stage in front of so many people. But being around such a friendly cast that all want to perform and take part in such an iconic musical, along with the positive atmosphere of a supportive audience, gave me that sense that I could do it, and we did.”  

Do you feel like you’ve developed as a performer, and will continue doing more musicals in the future?  

“I thought I would come out of this experience thinking it was awful and not wanting to do it again, but that wasn’t the case. Being around a group of people all wanting to have fun and do the same thing made it a really great experience....  


Next year is year 13 which will be a busy year, but maybe if it’s a musical that I have massive interest in, I would consider it again. As it’s a school production, it would be easy for me to get the chance to audition... 


One thing that made it light-hearted was knowing I couldn’t fail and there weren't any significant consequences, so it wasn’t the most serious thing in the world for me.”  

This was an inspiring performance, showcasing the varied talents of so many King Alfred's students.  I especially enjoyed interviewing one of the leading performers and wonder what KAAs has in store next year to involve its students and school community.