Letter to the editor: HSM was the right choice


To the Editor,

On behalf of the cast and crew of “High School Musical” (HSM), I would like to address the recent negative article in The Standard (Issue III “Plays should provoke thought”). Five sold out shows, standing ovations every night and cast members receiving compliments weeks later suggest HSM was a meaningful production.

The article stated, “without a real message, art is not art.” Yet, not every piece of art is created to provoke meaning. Many shows on the West End and Broadway, such as “Cats”, “Wicked” and “The Book of Mormon,” are produced sheerly for entertainment. When the audience leaves the theater and talks about how fun the big dance numbers were instead of discussing insightful themes, the show is still considered successful and enjoyable. A play can be successful and have value even if its sole purpose is to entertain.

Although a play doesn’t need a deep message to be considered art, HSM does in fact, have many messages. Despite its simplicity, the play talks about real situations in high school. Every day we experience cliques and social dilemmas, trying to balance love and life. Sticking to the status quo is discouraged at ASL. Like Gabriella and Troy, we are encouraged to try new things.  HSM highlights the reality that we are not always defined by what we do. It touches on how to be the new kid and how taking chances and risks can change everything.

The messages of the play were even represented within the cast. Students from all grades ate dinner together. The basketball team was willing to be a part of the production. Soccer and crew players skipped practices to try to make this show excellent. Students from all over came together to put on the show.

HSM is compared to Shakespeare in the article. It’s not fair to compare Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet to Disney’s HSM. Although many works of Disney are genius, one cannot compare a play written by the most famous playwright of all time to a play written for high schoolers; both pieces of work have different intentions. A musical’s purpose is going to be different than a drama’s.

The article suggested that the show was too predictable and therefore, bored the audience. Although the ending may have been predictable, it didn’t make the show any less entertaining. Many cast members already knew the entire script and songs before rehearsals began. Yet, after working on the play for over 200 hours, we still had a blast and never got bored.

In evaluating the quality of the production, I believe that it is irrelevant to talk about specific audience members who were present. When referencing the past High School production of “A Light in the Darkness, the article stated, “[the play] was strengthened by the presence of the actual Eva Schloss – the main character of the play – sitting amongst the audience.”

Although Eva Schloss is a respected and admirable person, I don’t believe that if a cast member from the original HSM sat in the Student Center during our play, it would make our production any better. The presence of certain audience members should not be part of a production’s value nor determinate its success.

Additionally, it is not fair to compare this production to past productions at all. In a school with a transient student population, every cast, every history and every process of a play is going to be different. Performing Arts Teacher Buck Herron emphasizes that he wants to give a variety of theatre experiences to his students who have been at ASL for four years of high school. Students who have been in “A Light in the Darkness,” “Avenue Q” and “High School Musical” have had a mix of theatrical experiences.

The quality of the show was not diminished for lack of meaning. By denouncing the script, the article undermined the accomplishments of the entire cast and crew. We all believe Herron made the right choice. Implying that the show was a waste of time or questioning whether it should’ve been staged at all misses the point.

A good drama program builds the confidence and skills of its members, encourages teamwork and fosters friendship. Any production that provides this to its participants is a success, regardless of its effect on the audience. In this light, HSM was surely the right choice.

We put on a production that had important messages that we live through everyday. Our ability to sell out five performances, and to fill the Student Center with students, teachers and family who had travelled far, shows that the production was valued by the community. Standing ovations and compliments for weeks after the show, and the creation of life-changing experiences, to me, are signs of success.

We built friendships and worked as a team. We made audiences laugh, dance and sing along. We put on High School Musical and are so proud.

–Eliot Konzal (’17)