By: Jessi Virtusio
One of the venues where Orland Park Theatre Troupe has staged productions for years offers the perfect backdrop for the group’s spring show.
Disney’s “High School Musical” runs April 26-28 at Carl Sandburg High School Performing Arts Center in Orland Park.
“The star athlete of the local high school falls for the brainy beauty. When they both audition for the upcoming high school musical, it disrupts the social hierarchy at the school,” reads the village of Orland Park’s description for the show.
“We’re not examining the human condition. However, it sneaks in the message that you don’t have to stick in your lane. Theater people can do other things. You’re not defined by one thing,” said Geoff Epperson, who was asked by the village of Orland Park to produce and direct the 2019 spring musical.
Featuring book by David Simpatico, “High School Musical” is based on the Disney Channel movie of the same name, which was written by Peter Barsocchini, stars Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens and won the Billboard Music Award for soundtrack album of the year.
Songs are by Bryan Louiselle, Faye Greenberg, David N. Lawrence, Greg Cham, Matthew Gerrard, Robbie Nevil, Ray Cham, Andrew Seeley, Randy Petersen, Kevin Quinn, Adam Watts, Jamie Houston and Andy Dodd. Louiselle also adapted, arranged and produced the music for “High School Musical.”
“I wanted them to have a musical that would get a lot of draw,” said Geoff Epperson, who credited costume designer Terri Devine, a fellow Orland Park resident, with suggesting “High School Musical” as the show to be staged.
Family members appearing in Disney’s “High School Musical” at Carl Sandburg High School Performing Arts Center include Orland Park’s Boertlein sisters: Elizabeth (front row, from left), Megan, Sarah, Samantha (back row, left) and Allison, who are seen here with their dog Annie. (Village of Orland Park)
“It doesn’t hurt that the songs are catchy. They’re all listenable songs,” he said.
“High School Musical” involves families including Geoff Epperson’s son Nathan Epperson, who turns 8 years old on opening night, in the ensemble, and Nathalee LoCoco, of Orland Park, as vocal director while her sister Nicolette LoCoco, a Sandburg High School senior, drums in the pit orchestra.
The cast also includes Orland Park’s Boertlein sisters: Allison, a Sandburg High School freshman; Elizabeth, a student at Century Junior High School in Orland Park; and Sarah, Megan and Samantha, who are all students at Meadow Ridge School in Orland Park.
“We have a huge, diverse cast. This is the largest cast I’ve ever worked with,” said Geoff Epperson about the approximately 60 actors including residents of Hickory Hills, Homer Glen, Homewood, Lansing, Lemont, New Lenox, Orland Hills, Orland Park, the Palos area and Tinley Park.
“When everybody is singing, the choral pieces are really powerful and fun. They’re mostly Orland Park people who want to see the Orland Park musical survive and thrive. From the little kids to the adults, they’ve all been working really hard to put a great product out there,” he said.
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The artistic staff for “High School Musical” includes assistant director Dee Hamilton; choreographer Michelle Belair, of Orland Park; and Orland Park Recreation Program supervisor Jean Petrow, the show’s executive producer.
“I thoroughly enjoyed directing this show and would love to direct again,” said Geoff Epperson, auditorium director for Sandburg High School and head speech coach at Palos Hills’ Stagg High School, which is also part of Consolidated High School District 230.
“It’s a fun show. I introduced my son to it. We watched it and he really enjoyed it. The music is addictive and toe-tapping.”
Disney’s ‘High School Musical’
When: 7 p.m. April 26-27; 2 p.m. April 28
Where: Carl Sandburg High School Performing Arts Center, 13300 S. LaGrange Road, Orland Park
Tickets: $18 adults; $16 seniors or students; $14 ages 12 and younger
Information: 708-403-5000; www.bit.ly/2V314Ex
Jessi Virtusio is a freelancer for the Daily Southtown.