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SANDY, Utah — It’s hard to imagine practically anything remaining a secret in high school for a week—let alone SEVEN months, but somehow that’s what 40 band students did in order to take part in a popular streaming TV show.
Alta High School band director Caleb Shabestari said he got a call last June from a friend of a friend at a Utah-based production company that had an urgent need for a shoot.
“They said they were looking for a marching band,” Shabestari said. “I said, ‘I have one of those.’”
He soon learned what the band was needed for—a scene for episode 10 of the Disney+ series, “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.”
Seniors Brandon Lupus and Madi Bowles said he couldn’t believe the news that initially came as notifications on their phone as Shabestari sought out his cast of 40.
“We were going to be in High School Musical and I called my mom immediately because High School Musical was my all-time favorite movie!” Bowles recalled.
Despite a few rumblings to family, word of the students’ work never got out, also thanks to non-disclosure agreements for those taking part in the series.
“We had to keep it very secretive!” Shabestari said.
With the episode finally airing last week, the students were finally free to talk publicly about their experience.
The teens faced a compressed schedule to learn the choreography and practice prior to a 12-hour day of filming.
“It was really tiring but they gave us a lot of breaks,” Bowles said. “We had to stand for a while and it was really hot with all the lights, but I didn’t care. I was just excited to be there and watch all the cast perform.”
Lupus said it was an incredible experience.
“Seeing myself where I see these celebrities—and these celebrities are everywhere—was probably the most surreal thing,” Lupus said.
Shabestari said he was glad the project taught his students some real-world skills as well as giving them insight into how TV shows are made.
“It helped them become a better team,” he said. “If you can’t bond after that, you can’t ever bond.”