Join The Children's Theatre of Charleston (CTOC) as they celebrate 85 years of producing theatre in West Virginia with their next production, High School Musical. For one week only you can catch this show, based on the beloved film series, on stage at the Clay Center in Charleston, WV! Bring the family and together enjoy this heartwarming, hilarious, family friendly, and catchy musical hit.

Show Name: High School Musical
Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences, 1 Clay Square, Charleston, WV 25301
Date: June 28th, 29th and 30th, 2018 at 7:00 PM and July 1st, 2018 at 2:00 PM
Cost: All tickets are $15 and can be purchased at the Clay Center Box Office, online at, or via phone at (304) 561-3570.
More Info: You can visit the
Facebook Event Page or contact CTOC.

High School Musical follows Troy, Gabriella, and the students of East High as they struggle with issues relatable to all high schoolers: first loves, friends, family, and figuring out how to balance your classes with your need for a social life. East High is rife with cliques, from the jocks and Brainiacs, to the thespians and skaters, but not everybody fits neatly, or is comfortable, being lumped into one specific group. Hierarchy in the school begins to change when Troy (Will Manahan), the jock basketball team captain, discovers that brainy Gabriella (Rachel Couch) - a mysterious girl he sang karaoke with while on a ski trip - has just enrolled at his school. After admitting to himself that he may enjoy singing just as much as basketball, Troy teams up with Gabriella to audition for the high school musical being cast by Ms. Darbus (LeeAnne Rheinlander). While resented by some, others see the change to the school's status quo - led by Troy - as a good thing. What follows is an enthralling and highly catchy musical that is sure to be fun for the whole family!

This production of High School Musical features a cast of 57 actors representing 18 different schools including George Washington High School, Nitro High School, Scott High School, Hurricane High School, Winfield High School, Charleston Catholic High School, Riverside High School, South Charleston High School, Sissonville High School, Capital High School, Marshall University, and West Virginia State University.

I had the chance to speak with Deborah Haught, the High School Musical Director, about her thoughts on the show and why audiences should be excited.

"To the local youth involved in theatre, Disney musicals and High School Musical in particular are iconic," said Haught, when speaking about what drew her to direct the show. "The songs are a part of their stories and hold a special place for them. The music is fun and upbeat."

Haught recently had a chance to experience first hand the realties of current high school life. "I spent three months in early 2018 working with some students at capital High School. High school is a different world - with structures and internal rules that is sometimes tricky to figure out." High School Musical grasps this concept and rolls with it. "This show accepts this set of rules and structures and uses them to teach an important lesson on following your heart / your true self."

Despite the widespread popularity of the movie, Haught insists that the show still can surprise audiences just as it did those who auditioned. "Even though all the auditions came in thinking they already knew every note of High School Musical, the onstage version differs from the film musicals. The arrangements are different with lots of beautiful harmonies," explained Haught. "The film was more of a vehicle for individual characters and while a light is still shining on those well-loved characters in the onstage version, the students of East High provide beautiful vocal support."BWW Feature: HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL Performed By THE CHILDREN'S THEATRE OF CHARLESTON Heading To The CLAY CENTER THEATRE!

The stage version of High School Musical features new songs and an extended story, which serves to better identify the underlying themes. "I need to be able to identify the message," said Haught, "I think recognizing that cliques are part of life - but that life is better if those cliques are support structures, not barriers - is important today. If there was ever a time that we need to hear We're All In This Together, that time must be now!"

Haught took time to praise the cast and crew. "We have CTOC alums, people who have never performed with CTOC, some returning college students - a really great mix of students from all walks of student life. Our creative team is fabulous; Jeff Haught is Music Director, Mark Scarpelli is directing the orchestra, Jennifer Anderson is Stage Manager, and Allie Richardson is killing the choreography. Shout out to Coach Charleston Marshall at West Virginia State University for working with our Jocks to shape them into a championship team!" Haught wasn't finished with the accolades, taking time to appreciate those working behind the scenes, "We have CTOC super team Kit Reed and Mandy Shirley on Costumes, Loren Allen and Ryan Hurlbutt (designing the) Set, Terra Carr (creating) Props, Sheri Lacy (running) Lights, and Belinda Mullins (handling) sound."

As for potential audience members, Haught said, "Be prepared to be blown away! This cast is extremely talented. We are challenging them to work at peak capacity and they are rising to the challenge!" Haught added, "Imagine the energy of sixty teenagers who all love to sing and dance (performing) on the Maier Performance Hall Stage with a live orchestra! You will be singing along and dancing in the aisles!"

Cast List (Taken From the CTOC Event Page)

The Jocks
Troy Bolton - Will Manahan
Chad Danforth - Tristan Valleau
Zeke Baylor - Jake Guthrie
Jason - Gus Evans
Max Darnell
Dawson Haddox
Spencer Rheinlander
Jackson Sorrells
Jerome Whitfield

The Cheerleaders
Izzy Carnemolla
Cadee Green
Rylea Jennings
Olivia McCoy
Bailey Pittman
Megan Posey
Caitlin Quintrell
Ashley VanBrocklin
Mascot - Nola Todd

The Thespians
Sharpay Evans - Adrianna Pearson
Ryan Evans - Rubin Shirley
James - Stevie Jenkins
Susan - Julianne Godwin
Cathy - Kathryn Lakin
Grace Goggins
Cyndra - Grace Abdalla
Performance Art Kid #1 - Abeghail Connett
Performance Art Kid #2 - Lydia Compston
Performance Art Kid #3 - Jennifer Lewis

The Brainiacs
Gabriella Montez - Rachel Couch
Taylor McKessie - Dwedee Kobbah
Martha Cox - Isabella White
Kratnoff - Jakob Spruce
Shelby Bayliss
Ashley McCann
Cayce Murphy
Serena Nichols
Sophia Pratt
Tatyana Toliver-Hughes

The SK8R dudes/dudettes
Ripper - Tim Walker
Mongo - Audrey Atkinson
Shelby Damron
Ellie Lepp
Asa Miller
Abby Pauley

Other Students
Jack Scott - Clayton Holley
Kelsi Neilson - Sophie Alexander

The Adults
Mrs. Darbu - LeeAnne Rheinlander
Coach Bolton - Mark Atkinson
Ms. Tenney - Tracey Todd

The Wildcat Super Chorus
Jon Brennan
Zoe Dorst
Andrea Elkins
Willie Huff
Jacob Snyder
Torianna Todd
Davis Walsky
Casey White

Debbie Haught - Director
Allie Richardson - Choreographer
Jeff Haught - Musical Director
Mark Scarpelli - Orchestra Director/Accompanist

CTOC would like to thank Elizabeth Memorial United Methodist, Blessed Sacrament, and Rock Lake Presbyterian for allowing the use of their buildings for practice.

Richard Allen is a Contributing Editor for Broadway World. He also writes freelance for various other publications. You can find him online at or contact him via email at

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