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Students at Salt Lake City's East High School have given the same reply to a constant question over for the past two years: "No, we don't dance and sing in the halls like in the movie."

This fall, however, they'll make an exception. They'll sing, dance and even choreograph some of their own moves as they become one of the hundreds of schools across the country who take "High School Musical" to the stage.

Other schools, however, can't make the claim East High can. The school, as many Utahns know, is where parts of the Disney Channel smash hits "High School Musical" and "High School Musical 2" were filmed.

Kevin McClellan, East's drama instructor, initially hesitated to stage the musical.

But once he realized how much attention the "HSM" craze was drawing to East, he thought, "This is a really great opportunity."

Over the summer, the school had 40 to 50 people a day stopping to take pictures and get a firsthand look at the site of the films, which tell the story of basketball star Troy, mathlete Gabriella and their singing-and-dancing friends.

"It's quite the buzz," Principal Paul Sagers said, adding East's PTA is taking advantage of the school's exposure by selling T-shirts. "The traffic has been unbelievable."

East High students have mixed reactions to all the attention.

"We were apprehensive about it at first because we were so tired of it," said Amber Lee, a senior and drama club president. "So many people coming here and taking pictures . . . it kind of gets annoying after a while."

That annoyance led some students to groan when they heard what had been chosen for the school's own fall musical, but drama students such as Lee understand what the play could mean for their program.

"We have a great program and it will be an opportunity for people to be drawn to the school for future years," she said. "It will attract people and income."

Drama students hope the show will sell out.

Because tourists are now visiting the school, "we just kind of wanted to go with that kind of publicity and have people say, 'The real East High is doing the High School Musical,' " said Aaron Kramer, a senior.

McClellan said he hopes up to 200 students, whether they're in drama classes or not, will participate in the production. The stage adaptation has more ensemble numbers than the movie, allowing that many students to participate.

Ayden Jensen, a senior, said he won't be trying out because he doesn't act, but he likes the idea of having the play at the school. "Since they filmed 'High School Musical' here, [this should] bring more people since it's already famous for it."

Open auditions will be held Wednesday for students at East. The show will run Nov. 7 to Nov. 12. at 7 p.m.


* ROXANA ORELLANA can be reached at or 801-257-8693.