Iqaluit middle schoolers debut High School Musical play

‘I’m excited to see it finally come together,’ performer says

Students pose at the end of a scene during their technical run on Sunday. Pictured top row from left: Katelyn McGrath, Molly Hayward, Ymke Ndeloh, Liitia Lonsdale and Abi Tumilty. Bottom row from left: Nathan Austria, Sophia Mearns, Meegwun Giles, Marieve Rouillier, Micah Tagak and Alexa Senkow. (Photo by David Venn)

By David Venn
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Students at Aqsarniit Middle School will have to quell their nerves and excitement as they perform their rendition of High School Musical this week after a half-year of rehearsing.

On Wednesday, 25 students will perform two shows for fellow students at their school as well as Nakasuk and Joamie schools, before opening it up to the public Thursday and Friday evening and then Saturday afternoon and evening.

“I’m definitely very nervous, but also very excited because we’ve been working on this for such a long time,” said Grade 7 student Molly Hayward.

Hayward is cast as pianist Kelsi Nielsen in the play, which is based off the Disney franchise about balancing personal relationships while putting on a musical.

“I’m excited to see it finally come together,” she said.

Samaya Williams, who is in Grade 6, is taking on one of the lead roles as Sharpay Evans, played by Ashley Tisdale in the movie adaptation of High School Musical.

She’s hoping the first few performances go smoothly and that she doesn’t forget any lines or dance moves.

The play has been an opportunity for her to get to know some of her peers who she didn’t really know otherwise, she said.

“We kind of became friends. We weren’t friends before, but now we are,” Williams said.

Noah Smith, a Grade 8 student and first-time performer, is co-leading as the character Troy Bolton.

“I’m Zac Efron,” Smith said, jokingly.

Smith agreed with his co-lead, saying the group has spent so much time together that they’ve gotten much closer.

“I hope we don’t make an entire fool out of ourselves,” Smith said.

Students perform a basketball scene during their Sunday technical run for High School Musical. Pictured front row from left are Sophia Mearns, Noah Smith and Meegwun Giles. (Photo by David Venn)

The trio agreed that memorizing their lines was the hardest challenge, with lots of practice taking place at home since October.

Smith would be quick to say that he was the first actor to memorize his lines, “and he loves to brag about it,” Hayward said.

“It’s very fun, very challenging as well. And lots of work,” she said. “We’d have to stay until like 5:30 to 6 every night after school, but I think it was worth it.”

Teacher and director Shawna Thomson said the play has been a long time coming. She first tried to direct one in 2019, but then the COVID-19 pandemic broke it up.

Students sing and dance while rehearsing their rendition of High School Musical. Back row from right to left: Liitia Lonsdale and Abi Tumilty. Front row from left to right: Marieve Rouillier, Micah Tagak, Meegwun Giles, and Molly Hayward. (Photo by David Venn)

This is the first time since the lockdowns that the school felt it could put on a play without any interruptions, she said. And High School Musical was an obvious choice.

“Songs are super catchy, costuming was really easy, and it’s sort of something they can all relate to,” Thomson said.

One of the best parts of putting on the show has been watching the students gain confidence in their roles over the past six months, she said, adding that at first they were scared to stand up and sing.

“[Then] we had our final dress rehearsal and just like, the big grins on their faces — they’re singing, they’re projecting, they’ve got so much emotion. It’s been very cool to see them grow,” Thomson said.

She said there will be nerves on opening day, but they are confident in their abilities.

“I think that their friends and families and community members are really just gonna enjoy a night of theatre,” she said.

Tickets — being sold at the door — cost $10 for adults, $5 for students and are free for elders.

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(1) Comment:

  1. Posted by We appreciate you on

    So proud of our young community members and their teacher who gave so much of their time and effort to make us smile. Can’t wait, what a gift!


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