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Teen stars in 'High School Musical 2'

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HERITAGE HARBOUR — When the curtain opens at the Manatee Players this Friday, it will reveal one of the East County’s up-and-coming stars in her first role at the community theater.

Heritage Harbour resident Rebekah Johns will star in the theater’s production of “High School Musical 2.” Rebekah will portray the realistic, down-to-earth and intelligent Gabriella from the popular Disney movie.

“High School Musical 2” is the culmination of Manatee Players’ Broadway Book Camp. For the past three weeks, Rebekah, along with about 70 other aspiring actors ages 7-17, has immersed herself in the world of musical.

The camp began with an audition process for the leading roles.

“They taught us a little portion of the show that included dancing and singing, and then we went up onstage and auditioned,” Rebekah said. “They talked for about an hour and then told us all. I was so excited.”

Since that first day, the students have endured long, packed rehearsals to prepare for Friday’s premiere. And although Rebekah admits she always envisioned herself playing the part of the meddling Sharpay, she has had a blast climbing into Gabriella’s shoes.

“It’s just fun,” she says. “We have all of Act I done and most of Act II, and now we’re putting everything together.”

Rebekah inherited her vocal talent from her parents — who both directed choirs in the past. Her father, Wally, also is a guitarist and has served as music minister for several churches.

Wally Johns said he remembers noticing his daughter’s singing ability as early as age 5. Since then, Rebekah has embraced fully her talents. She performed in several children’s musicals, and later, at Haile Middle School, starred in “Once Upon a Mattress,” “Seussical, The Musical” and “Aladdin.” And although “High School Musical 2” is her first performance at the Manatee Players — it likely won’t be her last.

“I really want to get into it and audition for all the plays this year,” she said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun — but hard, too. Not everyone gets a part.”

Through the Broadway Boot Camp, Rebekah says she has become more comfortable with the dancing aspect of musical theater.

“The dancing — I’ve never done dancing,” she said. “I had never done choreography, never thought I was actually able to dance. Now, I kind of can.”

This fall, Rebekah will be a freshman at Braden River High School. She’s already enrolled in the school’s Arts Academy and is eager to take advantage of the specialized curriculum. She hopes the training will lead to more roles, bigger stages and, ultimately, theater’s brightest spotlight.

“I want to go on and do Broadway; that’s the big goal,” Rebekah said.

Contact Michael Eng at [email protected].

High School Musical 2
: 7 p.m., July 24-25; matinees at 2 p.m., July 25-26
WHERE: Manatee Players, 102 Old Main St.
TICKETS: $25 for adults; $11 for students. Tickets are available at the box office or online at


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