A High School Musical 1973
A High School Musical 1973

Book, Music & Lyrics by Bob Walton

A High School Musical 1973

A HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL - 1973 takes a satirical look at high school relationships as in GREASE, FOOTLOOSE, ZOMBIE PROM and yes, the HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL movies. This musical is a love story between the popular kid and the new girl in school, a jealous cheerleader and her groupies who scheme to come between them and the adult teachers who have to put up with all the crazy teenagers. We learn that the school board has lost it's funding and the school is going to have to close. The kids abandon their idea of a hunger strike to save the school and instead opt to put on a show to raise the money needed to keep the school open so they can graduate.

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The Groovy Backstory

My wife, Laurie Walton, is head of performing arts at the Riverdale YM-YHWA here in the Bronx, and she is always searching for a show that will be successful for the program and fun for her teen group, The Riverdale Rising Stars. The kids always enjoy doing new shows with contemporary music and the parents enjoy comedies, and the director likes a show with a lot roles to please the kids AND the parents. But, honestly, how many times can you do FOOTLOOSE, GREASE, ZOMBIE PROM and Disney’s HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL?

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The Gnarly Music

The music is mostly upbeat and fun, but can be a little challenging. Some of the ensemble vocals are tricky, and I tried to write and arrange the music so the band can really dig in and play. The band could be on stage, in appropriate clothing of the period - or in a pit. There is also a lot of opportunity for dance, as in GREASE or HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL. Mostly it’s dancing while singing, as opposed to singing and then a dance section. There were so many dances from the 70s, and the show ends with a big line dance of The Hustle, hopefully involving the audience too!

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The Keen Era

Viewing the 70s from our vantage point today, it now seems like a very innocent time. While writing the show, I watched the TV shows I grew up on again; Gilligan’s Island, The Brady Bunch, Happy Days, Starsky and Hutch, Sonny and Cher, and movies such as Saturday Night Fever, Grease and Carrie. But I also like to reference THE BRADY BUNCH movies that were made in the mid 90s, because it’s fun to see how that family looks in comparison to how we live today. It was interesting to see how the kids in the show didn’t understand much of the references and jokes, but their parents in the audience did!

The Outtasight Roles

The characters in the show are all pretty recognizable stereotypes, with perhaps the exception of Leroy Brown, Jr. While I did originally envision the role as an African American, I feel he should be very unthreatening, comically so. We, the audience, know he is totally overacting his tough guy role, it’s the gossip and rumors that make him seem scary to these overly innocent kids. Another good comparison might be the role of The Fonz in Happy Days. Everybody was scared of him, but he almost never did anything bad. At heart, Leroy is just a misunderstood kid who LOVES musicals! All the featured roles allow kids to come up with their own characters, and Adults can either be played by kids who are “acting” old...or they could be played by teachers from your school. Kids always enjoy seeing their teachers be the butt of jokes, but perhaps surprising them with hidden abilities and talents!

The Tubular Technical Elements

The set can be as simple or as detailed as budget allows. Since it all takes place in a school, most set pieces should be available fairly easily. I feel the more visually interesting the show can be, the better. Psychedelic lighting, the opportunity to incorporate projections, not only for specific moments noted in the script, but to show pictures of your high school from the 70s can be fun and embarrassing to teachers and parents!