Theatre Talk: High School Musicals, More Than a Song and Dance by Catherine Carter


If you’re a theater-lover (and chances are you are—otherwise you wouldn’t be receiving this newsletter), the odds are pretty good that you were a drama club member in high school…am I right? For some, drama club was a social activity that was something new and kept you off the sofa and for others it was, well, a religion. I visited my high school this year for their spring production of All Shook Up (Go CV!). While I was there, I realized this was the first show since 2007 that I hadn’t been part of in one way or another. What is it that keeps us going back to our old stomping grounds?  

What you have to realize is that high school musicals do more than entertain us and give us something to compete for. I can personally attest that I learned several life lessons during my time in drama club—including humility, leadership, teamwork, resourcefulness, self-worth and dealing with animosity—none of which have any specific correlation to hanging lights or making costumes. I’ll admit that my drama club experiences definitely weren’t all spotlight and roses (there were actually very few bright shining moments) and yet I stuck with it because I knew that I loved it more than anything. I’ve seen people transform just by being part of the musical—not only in high school, but also in companies just like SPARE. There’s a bond built that’s deeper than what any classroom or lunch table could create because the show forces everyone to jump out of their comfort zone onto a stage and, for some, extract emotions that normally are hidden behind the locker combinations. 

I highly encourage you, whoever you are, to support the high school musicals in your area this year. You can see the Southern Tier shows listed in this graphic organized by Richard Ives highlighting each school’s performance. I know I will never forget how I felt seeing sold-out audiences when I took my bows, and I can guarantee you that the students now won’t either whether they stick with theatre or not. Support the local arts and support the students, staff, and volunteers that make it happen!