At Woodlands High School this week, the kid playing the jock who loves musicals (despite the fact that his friends give him grief about it) is a jock who loves musicals despite the fact that his friends give him grief about it.
Miguel Lanier, 18, a Woodlands senior, has spent his life playing football. He was a punter, wide receiver and running back on Woodlands’ championship team this year.
When Woodlands’ director Nicole Masi heard him sing, she convinced him to try out for “High School Musical,” the show about a jock who keeps his musical talents hidden from his friends.
“She told me last year that I have to audition. After football was over, I was like ‘I have nothing to do. We just won a championship. I’m feeling happy, so, all right, I’ll just audition for the play.'”
There was a learning curve for Lanier, who had never been in a show. He didn’t know upstage from downstage, stage left from right. And he wasn’t expecting much from the audition.
“I wasn’t looking for anything big, but I auditioned and Ms. Masi hit me with the good news,” he said.
The good news: He had landed the role of Troy Bolton, basketball star of The Wildcats, who falls in love with Gabriella (played at Woodlands by Ariana Otto) and decides to audition for the high school musical.
(Junior Journi Gallwey is Sharpay; senior Joseph Gyapong is her brother, Ryan; sophomore Rose Tumminelli is Ms. Darbus, the director; junior Thomas Creegan is Chad; junior Jazmyn Thorpe is Taylor.)
For Lanier, it was a case of life imitating art.
“To play Troy you have to know how to separate your friends from what you really want. Troy is used to being with his friends, playing basketball. He’s kind of like me. That’s why I feel I fit the role so well. I’m always with my friends, being a football player, but now it’s like ‘I want to be in the play and I have to hide it from my friends, a little.’
“To be honest, I did have to keep it from them,” Lanier said. “You know how jocks are. They’re like ‘You’re going to be in the play, and sing, and dance, in “High School Musical”?’ But I didn’t care what everyone else thought, and Troy learns that same lesson.”
Lanier said when he’s feeling nervous about the role, Masi reminds him that if he wants to know how Troy feels, he should think about how he feels.
“She says, “Just be you and you’ll be Troy,'” he said.
Next year, he heads off to do another thing he has never done: Enroll in business school at Brigham Young University.
But this week, he’s a jock who happens to love musicals.
“High School Musical”—7 p.m., April 24; 4 p.m., April 25; 3 p.m., April 26—$10, $5 students and seniors — 914-761-6052.
Here’s the Running Lines video I shot at Woodlands. Thanks to director Nicole Masi for hitting the curve I sent her, and to Miguel Lanier for showing up while sick. They are troopers. Enjoy!