A wildly popular musical and an opportunity to perform original poetry are slated as productions from the Performing Arts Department this spring.

Auditions have begun for High School Musical, a stage production of a 2006 Disney Channel movie that chronicles the behind-the-scenes comedy and drama of putting on a high school show. Co-directed by faculty members Eleza Kort and Peter Parisi, the production will be a true collaboration by teachers in the department.

“This is a show that’s familiar to a large percentage of, if not the entire, student body, and it has a message of inclusion and acceptance,” Parisi said. “We wanted something that would appeal to actors and audiences, something that would allow us to work in person and remotely. We decided to collaborate, and as the project picks up steam, we’re adding more and more folks to work on it from both in the community and outside Milton.”

Faculty members Dar Anastas, Evan DelGaudio, and Shane Fuller comprise the tech team, Performing Arts Department Chair Kelli Edwards is choreographing the show, and Pam Walker will make costumes, said Kort. A music director from outside of Milton will also work on the show. The musical will be filmed, partially on campus and partially from remote students’ homes, due to COVID-19 restrictions. 

Filming the show has some advantages, Kort said, including having some students play smaller roles without conflicting with their other commitments and using the backdrop of campus for settings.

“We will be recording it for a number of reasons, one of which is that it’s not safe to do an in-person performance quite yet,” Kort said. “It’s also a way to be equitable for students no matter where they are, whether they’re remote, hybrid, or on campus. We can include anyone anywhere in the world if we do it like this.”

High School Musical will run from May 20 through May 22.

Another May performance will be a spoken-word show directed by faculty member Patrice Jean-Baptiste; auditions will begin in early March. Students are invited to write their own poetry and perform it—Jean-Baptiste will guide them on effective reading and delivery.

Jean-Baptiste had previously taught a spoken-word course, but this year was asked to open it up to a School-wide performance. She is considering expanding invitations to adults in the community as well as students, she said.

“Spoken word is a poetic medium for speaking your voice, for speaking your heart out loud,” she said. “This is writing poetry and sharing it in performance, so you’re adding power, passion, and meaning to your words. It’s super engaging and requires some willingness to share and to be honest and vulnerable.”

The spoken-word show will likely be recorded and shared in May, with the possibility of an outdoor performance if conditions allow, Jean-Baptiste said.