Rebirth of a theater program: West Point HS Performing Arts presents “High School Musical”

W.C. Mann

WEST POINT – West Point High School (WPHS) hasn’t had an organized theater program since the 1990s, so expectations for its first restart effort could be low.  The Performing Arts program took on “High School Musical” with very little budget and without a sound system in its inventory, so expectations could be low.  They put on the show in a temporarily-repurposed gym on the opening weekend of Spring Break, so expectations could be low.  Expectations could also be wrong.

By Saturday afternoon, WPHS Performing Arts Director Ty Parker was pleased with what he had seen.

“It has been incredible, so far,” said Parker.  “We had school performances Thursday and Friday, and those were very successful; the students really enjoyed it.  I think it’s more than they expected it to be, so that’s a great thing to have.  It’s been awesome.”

Restarting a long-dormant program can be a daunting task.

According to Parker, “We had nothing.  We didn’t have a sound system.  We didn’t have single microphone.”

Cast member Ally Sapp added, “We had a lot of financial issues along the way, but it ended up working out.  Mr. Parker was very good at fundraising and coming up with ways to work stuff out.”

By the time performances started, the gym was transformed, lights were hung, the sound system was in place, and the cast members had their microphones.  The use of computer-projected backdrops saved the small crew from having to worry about elaborate stage settings.  The rapid backdrop changes allowed for smooth and quick transitions from scene to scene.

There were occasional issues typical of high school productions: voices not being heard clearly and mics feeding back.  For a first effort, though, these were few and far between.  The acting, especially for a largely inexperienced cast, was good, and the singing did not sound like it was coming from a new program.  The vocalists generally seemed confident in their abilities and comfortable in front of an audience.

Parker was careful to spread the credit for a successful show, “All the cast members have been awesome; the extras, the stage crew, they’ve been doing a really good job.  I want to thank (WPHS Principal) Heith Yearwood for all his support, and Superintendent Shane Barnette.  And our campus maintenance Wesley (Laney), he’s just been incredible; he’s hung lights and done all kinds of things backstage.  He’s been an answer to prayer.  Scott Adams from Universal Sound did all our sound for us.  And the support from teachers and the community has been awesome.”

Principal cast

  • Micah Coucke – Troy Bolton
  • Leah Smith – Gabriella Montez
  • Morgan Coucke – Sharpay Evans
  • Brendan Williamson – Ryan Evans
  • Josh Couch – Chad Danforth
  • Ally Sapp – Taylor McKessie
  • Phillip Aufderhaar – Zeke Baylor
  • Katie Coleman – Kelsi Nielsen
  • Kaitlyn McCullar – Martha Cox
  • Colby Tyree – Jack Scott
  • Abbey Wren – Ms. Darbus
  • Jimmy Harbison – Coach Bolton

Comments from the cast

Josh Couch (Chad Danforth): “I’m thankful for this school, for giving us the chance to do this play, and giving us our chance to shine.”

Micah Coucke (Troy Bolton): “I just feel really thankful to be here with everybody else.  It’s been a great time.  We’ve really been doing well the past couple of days.  Yeah, it’s been a little bit stressful with everything going on, but we’ve been doing good.”

Ally Sapp (Taylor McKessie): “I’m really glad that we started this program, so I can leave senior year with a bang!”

Colby Tyree (Jack Scott): “We haven’t had a theater program in a long time, but this is going to be an excellent opportunity to get it restarted.  We have a great group here, and Mr. Parker’s doing an excellent job directing.  West Point Theater is going to be something that people are going to want to come out and see very soon.”


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