Heritage Middle School drama students will head to high school this weekend, as they perform High School Musical Jr.

Heritage Middle School drama students will head to high school this weekend, as they perform High School Musical Jr.

Sixty students, and five high-school crew members, will put on the show at 7:30 today through Saturday, March 14-16 at Westerville North High School, 750 County Line Road. Tickets are $7.

The students have been working on the show since casting was completed at the end of October, said Musical Director Sandra Jones. December was devoted to vocals and almost daily rehearsals began in January, Jones said.

High School Musical Jr., which takes the familiar Disney storyline but downsizes some of the full show's dialogue, has been a challenging show for the drama troop to take on, as it features lots of dancing and difficult music, Jones said

"It's very high energy," she said. "While you're singing, you have to dance."

Director Kellie Sheely said she chose High School Musical Jr. for this year's show to give students the opportunity to act in a modern play. Last year, the troop performed Beauty and the Beast, Sheely said, and a play set in modern day hadn't been performed since the troop did Footloose four years ago.

"I wanted a different feel, something more modern, upbeat. Something that wasn't a fantasy," Sheely said.

Because High School Musical is something that today's middle school students are very familiar with, the show generated a lot of interest, with auditions pulling in 110 students for the cast of 45.

"The kids grew up with it," Sheely said. "Auditions were very dramatic. There was a lot of interest."

Since 2005, Heritage Middle School's annual play has been performed on the stage of Westerville North High School, which allows the drama troop to take larger productions while students are able to learn the ins and outs of performing on a high school stage, Jones said.

"We try to give them the opportunity of learning the lights, the sound, all of the things the high school kids have the opportunity to learn," Jones said. "It's worth all of the work for them to come in and do it like the high schoolers do it.

"Then, when they come to high school, they know what they're doing."

The large-scale production also is made possible with the help of the students' parents, who volunteer to provide dinners for the troop, sell tickets and concessions, and build sets, among other things, Jones said.

"We couldn't do the show without our parents," she said.

Cast members include:

Jared Kloos as Troy, Jacob Ryan as Chad, Sam Johnston as Zeke, Cherish Myers as Sharpay, Michael Gleich as Ryan, Katie Kacsandi as Kelsi;

De'Vonn Battle as James, Julia DeWerth as Susan, Meredith Horn as Cathy, Megan Schmidt as Cyndra, Lizzy Nelson as Gabriella;

Jenna Johnston as Taylor, Dani Salisbury as Martha, Oliver Miller as Jack, JP Freeman as Ripper, Jackson Shewmake as Mongo,

Emily Stowers as Mr. Darbus, Charlie Roush as coach Bolton; Haley Jo Conley as Ms. Tenney, Ian Wesley as the science decathlon moderator;

Jared Kloos, Sam Johnston, Jacob Ryan, Zach Ryan, Keeston Walden, Greg Hassenpflug, Jackson Shewmake, Gabby Couch, Haley Jo Conley, Cheyanne Carter, Maya Becker, Adrienne Rodgers, Sydney Salisbury and Meleuh Fobellah will play the "Jocks;"

Lizzy Nelson, Jenna Johnston, Dani Salsibury, Oliver Miller, Ashley Mercer, Mikayla Latimer, Rebecca Harris, Whitney Damson, Carolyn Bructo, Sarah Schindehette, Christopher Teal, Ervan Rodgers, Ian Wesley and Theo Beeba will as play the "Brainiacs;"

Jackson Shewmake, Zach Ryan, Sydney Salisbury and Meleuh Fobellah will serve as the play's Skaters;

Cherish Myers, Michael Gleich, De'Vonn Battle, Julia DeWerth, Meredith Horn, Megan Schmidt, Madelyn Hinz, Allison Ricker, MaKenna Kincer and Richard Du will be Thespians;

Crew members include:

Alex Haas (curtain), Jamie DeWerth (sound) Zack Fotis, Reagan Christie, Mia Hoffman, Ghias Padmakoesoema;

Lizzy Edwards, Darby Holman;Daemon Gordon, Trevor Vestal, Colton Bucholz, Vivian Giang and Alison Kaiser.

Sami Pauff, Amira Messbarger and Tony Ruyack, will work in the dressing room and as ushers.

And Westerville North will lend five crew members: Cody Justice, Harrison Nickels, Dakota Reyburn, Ryan Pickens and Caleb Lewis.