From May 27 to May 28, Shrunken Heads Production Co. present their take on the nostalgic and iconic Disney Channel Original Movie “High School Musical” at the Thunderdome. Shrunken Heads is UCSB’s premier musical theater company that presents performances and is run entirely by students. This is Shrunken Heads’ first live performance since the pandemic began and the cast members are thrilled.
“This is my second production with Shrunken Heads, my first was my freshman year right before COVID hit where we did ‘Mamma Mia,'” said Dakota Tyson, a third-year aquatic biology major.
“I came from high school doing a lot of acting and plays, and I came to college and wanted to go back. It’s harder to get into big plays in college if you don’t have a BFA or an acting major, so Shrunken Heads was a great opportunity for me to Getting into Musicals in College Without Taking an Acting Minor. My friends from ‘Mamma Mia’ told me about this production, which I was really excited for because it was High School Musical,” Tyson said.
There are also many other cast members playing Shrunken Heads for the first time, like sophomore environmental studies student Jenny Jaimes. “I hadn’t had a chance to be on any other productions of Shrunken Heads because I hadn’t heard of it until this term,” Jaimes said. “I became interested in their company and their productions after a friend sent me his social media accounts.”
Iconic high school sweethearts Gabriella Montez and Troy Bolton will be played by Haeli Ross, a third-year English major, and Joseph Henschel, a freshman environmental studies major. Ross and Henschel shared that they both enjoyed their first production with Shrunken Heads and made many fond memories during rehearsals and meeting the cast in general.
“My favorite memory goes back to the first weeks of rehearsals. Our director told us to analyze our characters, create stories and recent events in the lives of our characters to really bring the show to life. We all sat in a circle and told the stories we love while being in character. Everyone was so creative and hilarious, and that’s when I realized how lucky I was to be part of such a brilliant and talented cast,” Henschel said.
His co-star, Ross, mentioned how his favorite memory was when “Troy had an accident changing into a swimsuit suit… four people had to help him and it was the funniest thing to happen in the backstage while a scene was happening on stage, because something like this could very well happen during the real show.
All of the cast members had their favorite scene numbers, as there are many iconic scenes and songs in “High School Musical.” Jaimes mentioned that his favorite number was “definitely the ‘Get’cha Head in the Game’ number”.
“It features the entire basketball team, including our team captain, Bolton, and took a lot of time, training, stamina and dedication from the basketball players to do it and clean it up. The number is super danceable and I think it’s one of the most recognizable songs on the show,” Jaimes said.
Besides Jaimes, Ross mentioned his favorite was “Stick To The Status Quo”. “It was also the dance number we learned when we auditioned to be on the show, so it’s a great looping moment,” Ross said.
Ross also shared that “The song ‘Counting on You’ isn’t a song in a movie, which I really like because it adds that theatrical magic to the show rather than just being a recreation of the iconic movie. from Disney.”
As Shrunken Heads holds its first live production after the outbreak of COVID-19, it’s truly an unforgettable feeling for everyone.
“This is my first production since COVID, and I can’t even begin to express how great it is to perform live again. I missed the invigorating rush of live performances, and it doesn’t there is absolutely nothing like playing with such amazing people by your side,” Henschel said.
Likewise, Tyson said it was an irreplaceable feeling, “to be able to play in person and play live because you can interact with the actors, socialize and have fun, and just interact with them in a way that we couldn’t. just not do online.”
Musical performances are always such a pleasure; it takes a long time to train and prepare, but it only takes about two to three days until it’s over. Many cast members had thoughts about the production and appreciation from their peers and cast members.
“This production ran into so many hurdles and challenges, especially COVID safety, but everyone handled it with grace,” Jaimes said.
“Although we had some major changes in the show, even in the last week before the show, we continued our progress and our repetitions, and we just rolled with the punches – I love them and appreciate them all for this and I hope to be in future shows and productions! Jaimes said.
Ross also wanted to express his thanks to his fellow cast members.
“I’m so glad I had the courage to put my name on this Google form and this audition. I’ve never been in a live music production before. so I was willing to be intimidated by the people with whom I was auditioning. I never felt like a rookie or an outcast. This casting has a special place in my heart because we all support and help each other. I really love my wildcats,” a said Ross.
Come see these actors on stage and in their element, tonight May 28 at 8 p.m. the Thunderdome!