Disney’s High School Musical 2 Scenic Projections Debuted By Oxford Falls Grammar in New South Wales, Australia
🎶 Iced tea imported from England, Lifeguards imported from Spain
Towels imported from Turkey, And turkey imported from Maine🎶
. . .and Scenic Projections imported from the USA to AUSTRALIA! I had the privilege of chatting with James Hill and Danielle Creeley from Oxford Falls Grammar on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Oxford Falls Grammar recently debuted the Scenic Projections for Disney’s High School Musical 2, the fabulous summertime sequel to the smash hit!
Melissa: Hi James, Hi Danielle. Thank you so much for meeting with me today, and congratulations on your production! To kick off our interview here, would you mind telling me a little bit about your organization?
James: Hi Melissa, of course! Oxford Falls Grammar is a private school in North Shore of Sydney.
Danielle: It’s a co-education program covering kindergarten - year 12.
James: Yes, it’s been around for about 30 years, so still relatively new in comparison to other schools around us. We’re associated with the C3 Church and we have a very healthy performing arts sector of the school with dance, drama, and music. Though we’ve done a few junior school musicals, productions like Annie Jr, this was our first large-scale musical production in the Senior School.
Melissa: With this being your first large-scale musical, how did you come to choose High School Musical 2?
James: Well, being a Christian school we needed to be mindful of the content and being our first large production we wanted to be smart and do something we could pull off. HSM 2 is a bit cheesy, but cheese sells; there’s great music, the content is straightforward, and everyone knows the characters from the original High School Musical.
Danielle: Plus it’s a “Feel-good” musical, and we definitely could all use that.
James: Yes, “feel-good,” user friendly, and good for the budget. For example, the costumes are all modern and easy to source from within the community.
Melissa: That all makes a lot of sense! So, what led you to use digital scenery for your production?
James: Well, a few years back I saw a local production of Hairspray that used projections. I thought it was very cool and it has been at the back of my mind ever since. Then we did our big recital last year at the production venue we used for HSM2, and the sound and engineering crew approached me and explained the technical capabilities they had (the video wall). They explained that they would love to be able to actually use it as intended, so as we started to explore our big show, we kept the technology options in mind; we knew we couldn’t take the technology we had for granted.
Melissa: What challenges, if any, did you face during your production, and how did you overcome them?
James: Covid certainly impacted our rehearsals. All of term 4, our first several weeks of rehearsal, were done in isolation via Google Meet. Then when we returned to the school, we could only meet in cohorts, meaning only year 9s could associate with year 9s. It wasn’t until several weeks in where we were allowed to have all the kids together. In fact, we only ever had one rehearsal where we had the entire cast there, and that was a week and a half before the show.
Danielle: In addition to Covid, our school flooded which led to unexpected days off.
James: Right, they had to close the school to get the water out and recarpet.
Melissa: Oh my goodness! You certainly had a lot to overcome there.
James: Yes, it made it tricky to manage everyone to arriving at the same point; getting everyone to the performance ready level.
Melissa: What would you say was your favorite moment of the show?
James: Oh, that’s so hard. I feel like it changed for each of the performances, but for me I think it was seeing the students shine so brightly. With this being our first large musical, we had students come from out of the woodwork. For example, our Gabriella. I had never met the actress prior to the show, she hadn’t been in any of our drama programs and she came out for the auditions. This production proved the power of musicals, how they bring students together, and provides new opportunities down the road.
Melissa: Is there any advice you would give to other theatres considering this title?
James: Just have a “go” at it. It’s a user friendly show, you can use a band, you can use tracks, and it can really be manipulated to meet your needs. The music is so catchy and it did for us exactly what we wanted to do; a great starting point for us to level up our theatre program.
Melissa: And with this being a first time production for your organization, how did the digital scenery fit into your program?
James: Digital scenery will always be a part of our programs from now on. We had many other teachers and schools come to see the show, and they were all blown away by it, It was a wow factor that was easy to bring. It took the pressure of the set design and it did such a great job at setting the moods. You do have to plan some time into your rehearsals for the kids to react to the animations though. The first day we had them on, the kids kept stopping to turn and admire what was happening behind them, especially when the sprinklers came on at the golf course.
Melissa: I’m so glad that the Scenic Projections elevated your production, and that’s great advice! One last question: What was your experience working with the team at Broadway Media?
James: We’re extremely helpful and grateful that we were able to pilot this show. When we reached out, the show wasn’t in your catalogue, you could’ve easily said “no, it’s not on our timeline.” Instead, we got to help with creating our vision, and we’re very thankful to Broadway Media for taking this on. We’re developing our musical culture at our school, and there’s no doubt that this experience will springboard into a larger program at our school.
Melissa: And we are so grateful that you reached out to us! If you’re ever doing a show that isn’t in our catalogue, give us a call - you never know