The Temple High School Theatre Department is ready for the start of something new.

The thespians will present Disney’s “High School Musical” this weekend in the school’s auditorium, 415 N. 31st St. Performances will begin 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday with a matinee performance at 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets can be purchased in advance through www.thespiansr.us and will also be sold at the door.

A pre-show chicken spaghetti dinner and early admission to the show will be available Saturday night. Tickets for the dinner are also available online.

Natasha Tolleson, theatre director, said she selected the show because it would be a good training piece for her young cast.

“I have a young company this year, a young group of actors,” she said. “I would say 60 percent of these kids have never been onstage. We have principle characters who have never been in a play. I knew this was going to be a growing, building year for the Temple High School Theatre program, and so I thought ‘High School Musical’ is a good introduction into musical theatre.”

The show is brought to life by almost 90 cast and crew members, and features popular songs and dances from the Disney Channel Original Movie. Tolleson said the cast began learning all of the choreography during the first week of Christmas break.

She said the play differs slightly from the movie version, but she believes audiences will find it entertaining.

“I think that it shows our young people at Temple High School and highlights their talent,” Tolleson said. “And it’s a very diverse group and I think that it just represents what’s best about our high school.”

Junior Chris Hitt plays Troy Bolton, the star athlete of East High who meets the brainy new girl, Gabriella Montez. The two decide to go against the status quo by auditioning for the school musical, throwing the entire student body into an uproar.

Hitt said this will be his first musical production. He said he was encouraged to audition for the show by Choir Director Cameron Roucloux.

“It seemed really cool at the time, and it’s really paying off,” Hitt said. “I like it.”

Senior Adara Felix plays the shy Gabriella. Felix said she’s enjoyed taking on the roll and was already very familiar with the story.

“I remember dancing to it when I was, like, in kindergarten, and going to the theaters to see ‘High School Musical 3,’ so I’m a big fan of the show, and I just want to make sure that I do the movies justice,” she said.

Junior Sierra Amalbert plays Sharpay Evans, East High’s resident diva who feels threatened by Gabriella. Amalbert said playing the mean, cutthroat character was challenging, but she enjoyed stepping into a different role.

“Our production of ‘High School Musical’ really represents our student body really well,” she said. “And there’s tons of kids in the show. This is a huge show. And most high schools don’t really put so much faith into their kids, and basically all of this was done by kids with the guidance of our directors. Everyone knows ‘High School Musical.’ It’s the musical we grew up with and it’s great that we’re getting to do this while we’re actually the age of our idolized characters ... so it’s fun getting to sing our songs that we all sung in the bathroom when we were, like, 8 years old.”

Senior Alante Anderson is also undertaking a lead role in a musical for the first time. Anderson is playing Ryan Evans, who is often in the shadow of his twin sister, Sharpay. He said he’s enjoyed getting to sing and dance, and hopes everyone will come see the show the cast has put together.

Assistant Principal Lamar Collins plays Coach Bolton, head coach of the basketball team and Troy’s father. As a former coach, Collins said he naturally gravitates toward the athletes; so participating in the musical gives him the chance to meet some of the students he didn’t really know before, and develop relationships with them.

Collins said everyone should come out to see the talented, award-winning students perform.

“You’re going to be treated to some good family fun,” he said. “If you’re looking for a good outlet, good family fun, this is the place you out to be Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday.”