Theatre alum recruits students of all sorts for 'High School Musical'

South Sioux City High School performers leap in the air, mimicking Disney's "High School Musical" stars. SSC put on its own version of the musical, directed by BCU alum Natali Ramirez. Photo by Ally Karsyn, Sioux City Journal

SOUTH SIOUX CITY, Neb. — It takes all kinds to put on a high school play.

And with Natali Ramirez at the helm, there is no “type” that’s left untouched. She called on vocalists, techies, class clowns, artists and athletes.

Standing inches shorter than a lot of the students, the 23-year-old director roamed the halls and classrooms of her old stomping grounds in search of potential auditioners for a production of Disney’s “High School Musical.” She drummed up nearly 50 cast members – many of them seniors at South Sioux City High School and newcomers to the stage.

Natali Ramirez

“I’m dealing with a lot of new actors who have never done this before, never performed,” said Ramirez, a 2013 graduate of Briar Cliff. 

“They’re finding new talents they never knew they had. They’re learning to dance and sing and act, and they’re used to always kicking a ball around and doing sports.”

Based on the Emmy Award-winning TV movie, Disney’s “High School Musical” follows the story of two students, Troy and Gabriella, torn between cliques.

“The overall message teaches you to not go with the status quo,” Ramirez said. “Don’t stay in your cliques. Don’t follow stereotypes. You don’t have to follow the crowd and do what the queen bee does. You can do your own thing.”

“I'm dealing with a lot of new actors who have never done this before ...”

— Natali Ramirez ('13), South Sioux City H.S. Director

The cast includes real-life jocks and cheerleaders. She has a dozen basketball players. Only one has been in a musical before. And she has soccer players, boys who secretly like to dance behind closed doors.

They’re not the only ones stepping forward.

There’s a boy who likes to sing in Spanish, but when Ramirez coaxed him to sing in English, she discovered a new facet of his capabilities. Another boy likes to breakdance and post videos of it on YouTube. And yet another has a knack for beatboxing. Ramirez decided to add that into the show.

As a girl, Ramirez would watch TV and tell her mother she was going to be an actress. Her first role was in the “Wizard of Oz” when she was in eighth grade. She ended up majoring in theatre at Briar Cliff.

Read the entire Sioux City Journal article »

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