As it turns out, Luke Nafrada has a story much like his character in “High School Musical.”
Luke plays the role of Troy Bolton, the star of his basketball team and the star of the show. Troy Bolton loves sports, but he’s secretly drawn to try out for a school musical, not exactly a jock thing to do.
Luke can relate to the feeling entirely. A junior at Webb School, he didn’t tell his friends about landing the part in “High School Musical,” which is set for three performances this Friday and Saturday at the Park Theater.
“For me, it’s always been sports,” said Luke. “I’ve played baseball since I was little and it’s been baseball tournaments all summer long ever since I can remember. I’ve always been a sports guy. So I tried out and I got this part in the musical and it was my very own Troy Bolton moment. I didn’t tell any of my friends. I was hiding it from them. But the way social media is nowadays, they found out and they asked me if I was in a play. When I told them that I was, they were so supportive. It really was like the musical.”
Playing the female lead opposite Luke is Kara Caten, who stars as the lovely and sweet-singing Gabriella Montez. It was through Kara’s encouragement that Luke tried out for the play in the first place.
“I thought he would be the perfect Troy Bolton,” said Kara, “but I never dreamed I would be Gabriella. I figured I would get more of a supporting role. It’s definitely required a lot of work and a lot of practice. I’ll practice in the car. I’ll practice during family game nights. I’ll practice any chance I can get.”
As the “High School Musical” story goes, Troy and Gabriella are both drawn to singing – and each other – despite other interests tugging at their attention. Troy is a basketball star and Gabriella is a math whiz. They aren’t exactly in the same social circle, but their hearts keep bringing them together.
Their path is riddled with obstacles, including those hurled by the diabolical Sharpay, who has always starred in school musicals and views Gabriella as a threat to snatch her leading role.
“It’s fun being evil, but it’s tough too,” said Addy Stanley, who plays Sharpay. “I feel like I should apologize to Christian after every rehearsal.”
Christian Weeter plays Sharpay’s brother and musical sidekick Ryan. He receives a healthy dose of Sharpay’s verbal abuse.
“It’s apology accepted,” said Christian. “It’s all part of the show. For me, the best part is getting to be a character that I’ve seen in the movies.”
The play is the sixth at the Park Theater for director Logan Taylor, who says the message resonates with him as well.
“This show has taught me a lot and it’s made me really appreciate being in theater,” said Taylor. “The message of be true to yourself applies to me because when I was young I felt I had to stick to the status quo. We live in a world where we’re supposed to be like everyone else. It’s tough to be different.”
Taylor has high praise for the cast, which has logged many long hours during two months of rehearsals. He says the finished product is polished and one which will delight audiences.
Three public performances of “High School Musical” are scheduled this week. That includes Friday night at 7 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m., and Saturday at 7 p.m.
Tickets are available at the Park Theater box office or online at the Park Theater website.