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NAPLES — Melissa Kalnasy tried out on a whim and landed the lead.

"I guess I’m feeling pretty good about myself," the 10th-grader said after learning of the accolades regarding her ability to really sing; and that she landed the lead female role for Naples Musical and Entertainment Productions’ largest production yet: "High School Musical."

"And now I’m mildly suspenseful," the petite 15-year-old brunette, who will portray Gabriella Montez, said, laughing nervously. "There’s a lot to live up to right now."

She’ll have Hospitalman Recruit Kendall Natrop to help her through any anxious moments. Though both have been performing since middle school, Natrop’s a veteran at taking center stage.

"I’ve been doing this for a while," said the corpsman, stationed at Naval Hospital Naples — his first duty station. Natrop, 19, was selected to play the lead role of Troy Bolton.

Over the next several months, cast members will be dancing, singing and acting their way toward perfection to entertain what is hoped will be the masses, said producer Leslie Kekuewa.

The Emmy Award-winning Disney Channel movie has been described as a modern-day adaptation of "Romeo and Juliet." "High School Musical" is about two high schoolers from rival cliques. Troy Bolton is the captain of the basketball team, and Gabriella Montez is the nerdy, shy one. They try out for and land the leads of their own high school musical and work to mend the rift that threatens to divide the school. It spurred sequels.

"It’s our largest production yet. Not so much in the size of the cast, perhaps … but because of the popularity of the show," said Kekuewa, who also portrays one of the cheerleaders. "All over the world, people know this show, and that’s what makes it such a big deal for us."

The show will hit the stage May 1, 2, 3, 8 and 9 in Naples high school’s multipurpose room, or what some call the "cafegymatorium."

On May 16, the cast will perform in downtown Naples at the Teatro Bolivar.


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