This weekend marks a new beginning at Coal City Middle School.
About 40 students were cast in the middle school’s first ever musical — ironically, Disney’s “High School Musical” — in January.
Friday, April 13, was opening night, but the students will be on Coal City High School’s stage again at 7 p.m. tonight, Saturday, April 14, and again at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 15. Tickets cost $5.
Jack Micetich, musical director and student teacher for Coal City Middle School, explained that students normally don’t get to experience the theater until they are freshmen in high school. He was approached to put on a musical with the middle schoolers to get them into the arts at an earlier age.
“These are the years that stereotypes start forming,” Micetich said. “We wanted them to know they can do both theater and sports. You don’t have to be in a clique.”
He said all different people participate in the arts.
“It gives you a confidence that other things don’t,” the director said. “It gives you the confidence to be in front of people and to talk to people.”
One reason Micetich chose “High School Musical” was because he knew he would be able to draw in the basketball players for the basketball scenes.
The fact the show is a popular musical and movie for the younger generations was another factor, according to show choreographer Kim Scerine.
For the past few months, the cast and crew have been practicing between three and four days a week — early in the morning some days and in the evenings on others.
“We had to be creative with our practice schedule,” Scerine said. “We had to practice around the sports schedules.”
Two days before their opening night, the students performed the first half of their show for an estimated 900 fourth- through eighth-graders from Coal City.
“It was the first time in front of an audience,” Scerine said. “For most of them, it was their first time on stage.”
The students took the energy from the audience and used it to enhance their performances, Micetich said.
After the show, the group returned to the middle school and staff and students “bombarded” the performers to tell them how well they did and that the show was more than they ever expected, the director said.
Scerine said she couldn’t be more proud of the group of children with whom she was able to work.
Scerine’s son, Jake, was cast as Ryan, Sharpay’s brother, while two of Micetich’s brothers, Nick and Sean Micetich, will be on stage this weekend, as well.
Jake, Matt Gubelman, Tori White and Ashely Jezik have leads in the play, Micetich said.
“Our ultimate goal is for the kids to experience as much as they can so they are able to choose (their extra-curricular activities) in high school and college,” Scerine said.
Micetich is hoping for a large crowd this weekend. He also hopes the Coal City students the actors performed for Wednesday will come back to see the second have of the show.
“I’m really very excited and proud that our district put this together for the kids,” Scerine said. “It’s unusual to have a middle school put on a production like this.”