In 1978, Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta made Danny and Sandy everyone’s favorite singing high school couple when the film Grease premiered. Nearly 30 years later, Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens took over the “We Go Together” duo’s mantel, playing Troy and Gabriella in 2006’s High School Musical (HSM). The star-crossed sweethearts at the musically fertile East High sang a slew of memorable duets (“You Are the Music in Me,” “Breaking Free”) as well as the earworm-y ensemble number “We’re All In This Together.”
Although 10 years have passed since HSM debuted, the story lives on — in Santa Barbara, no less. On Saturday-Sunday, July 23-24, more than 60 area kids will perform the beloved play as the culmination of Stage Left Productions’ performing arts summer program. For the past four weeks, youths have been training in the various aspects of musical theater, including dance, singing, set design and construction, and acting.
Shana Lynch Arthurs and choreographer Steven Lovelace began Stage Left Productions 16 years ago when both were performing together on the stage and teaching children. “We discovered that we were like-minded in many ways, but especially in our approach to teaching,” wrote Lynch Arthurs in an email interview with The Santa Barbara Independent. “Ultimately, our hope is that our young performers have a great summer while at the same time creating a remarkable show. We value lessons in building confidence, respect, and team spirit. We also believe in providing the highest possible training in the performing arts.”
Stage Left chose HSM for this summer’s presentation at the behest of their students. “Last year, the kids asked, and we listened,” explained Lynch Arthurs, who also teaches performing arts at Crane Country Day School. “HSM also has some very sweet and inclusive messages. After all, wouldn’t it be great if everyone was singing ‘We’re All In This Together’ on the way to work and back home again?!” Indeed.
Stage Left Productions’ High School Musical runs Saturday-Sunday, July 23-24, 2 and 7 p.m., at Goleta Valley Jr. High School Theatre, 6100 Stow Canyon Road. Tickets will be sold at the door: $12 (general), $25 (reserved seating).