Childhood Memories Friday: High School Musicals

Childhood Memories Friday

When “High School Musical” became so popular a few years ago, it was nothing new to me. I had been part of 8 high school musicals in my day — they’re one of my favorite high school memories.

The fall and spring musicals put on by the high school Advanced Choir each year were big entertainment in our small town. My family went to them way before I was ever of an age to participate. I remember skipping out to the car after the musical ended, humming a catchy tune I’d picked up that evening (“Tea for Two” is pinging in my head as I type this). Mom always said, “I hope when you’re old enough, you will be in the musical …” Then I had to gulp, because as a chubby child convinced I was obese, I had an awful fear. The end of each big song tended to involve the guys on stage picking up the girls. I was sure that no guy would be capable of lifting me, and I envisioned many disasters that might ensue from the effort.

As things turned out, I needn’t have worried. I did spend all 4 years of high school in the Advanced Choir, because of my piano playing skills. I was part of all 8 high school musicals during my tenure, but it was in the orchestra pit rather than on stage, trading out piano detail with the other pianists (side note: I wonder how many high school choirs today have so many kids who can play piano at that level? Our choir always had so many that we had to ration out the songs among us. We also accompanied every piece performed in the choir concerts).

I was thinking about these musicals lately, and spent a fun few minutes pulling out my old yearbooks. These are the musicals we put on during my years:

  • Hello Dolly
  • Fiddler on the Roof
  • Brigadoon
  • Annie GetĀ  Your Gun
  • 110 in the Shade
  • SeventeenĀ  (I remember we were all pretty disappointed when this “no name” musical was chosen and announced)
  • Camelot
  • Plain & Fancy


high school musicals 1980Maybe it’s just the confidence of youth coloring my memories, but these shows always seemed extraordinarily well-done. Sets were ordered from New York. All the leads really could sing. Costumes were professional. Everyone (well, almost everyone) seemed to know his or her lines. Microphones and spotlights worked. There was never a problem selling plenty of tickets in the community for the several nights the shows ran. We were good!


Fiddler on the Roof high school musicals 1980I spent many hours trudging door to door schlepping band cheese for sale, or phoning church families trying to convince them to come to the choir chili supper, but musical tickets were always an easy sell. Everyone wanted to come to the shows!

And such is the memory of youth that, while my kids regularly remind me that I’ve forgotten something they told me yesterday, you can get me started on a dialogue from Camelot or a song from Fiddler on the Roof, and I’m off to the races, remembering it verbatim. To this day, I love musical theater, and I love listening to show tunes. Is this because of my teenage musical experience? Interesting to ponder …

Good, good memories. Did your high school do plays or musicals? Did you participate?

5 thoughts on “Childhood Memories Friday: High School Musicals

  1. I remember going to musicals even when you girls were so young that Dad stayed home with you. I could not wait until we could go as a family. The day came and we did go as a family, for years. I just loved them. They were excellent and I know music!

  2. Others could speak for this far better than I can. The last one I went to was How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying. It seemed well done but I didn’t care for the musical. I rarely go to them anymore. Used to our sixth graders got to go to one maybe every other year but I’m not sure that’s still going on with all the emphasis on testing, etc.

  3. This is so cool! Our high school didn’t do this… we had a few plays. My mother’s high school, however, sounds like yours, in that they did elaborate musicals, and she took part. My Dad and Mom used to act in community plays, too; then my Dad went to Hollywood for his “big break.” He was in one awful movie called “Two Minute Warning.” He’s the curly-permed usher in the football stands, wearing a red coat… I have his pay stubs, which is kind of cool. I can NOT act, but I was active in church choirs and programs, which is of course different, but it was fun. As long as I didn’t have to sing a solo! I do love to go to musicals and plays, though.

  4. We didn’t do musicals in my high school because it was so small ~ 19 in my graduating class and 78 in the entire high school when I was a senior. But we did do the Junior and Senior plays. How I loved them! I simply loved acting, and had one of the lead roles in the Junior class play. I’ve always wanted to act since then, but never had the opportunity. I doubt I’ve been to a high school musical or play since I graduated, a hundred years ago. LOL! Oh, to be young again.

    And, Susan, what you talk about related to memory is not unique to you. Long term memory is almost always better than short term memory. It’s part of the aging process. I know; I know. You don’t want to think that you’re aging, but we all are from the day we are born.

  5. 1976-78, SHS — Once Upon a Mattress, Irene, The King and I, Plain and Fancy. What absolute fun and madness!

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