A Romeo-and-Juliet reminiscent saga takes the Northwestern Middle School stage this weekend, but instead of swords and fights, dueling fractions dance, sing, excel at academics and play basketball. "High School Musical" is Zachary’s answer to the Shakespearean tragedy filled with love songs, laughter and basketball dance scenes.

Director Trish Dry and a cast of nearly 50 students will tackle both small scenes and big musical numbers with a cheerleading squad, marching band members and full-stage dance numbers. “Disney's 'High School Musical' is fun for the whole family,” Dry said. “Its large cast size and upbeat numbers make it the ideal show for NMS spring theater's season.”

Disney Channel's smash hit movie musical features clique-cross love interests Troy and Gabriella, portrayed by Tafari Beard and Deborah Kleinpeter, who are students at East High, dealing with issues of first love, friends and family while balancing school work and extracurricular activities.

The storyline picks up on the first day after winter break. The Jocks, Brainiacs, Thespians and Skater Dudes find their cliques, recount their vacations and look forward to the new year. Basketball team captain Troy discovers that the girl-geek Gabriella, a friend he met singing karaoke on his ski trip, has transferred to his school. They cause an upheaval when they decide to audition for the high school musical.

No school drama is complete without the mean girls, bullies and elitists. Ryan Evans and Sharpay Evans, portrayed by Kenny Collins and Lucy Yoes, provide both competition and conflict as some characters resent the threat posed to the status quo and others realize that Troy and Gabriella's alliance might just open the door for others to shine. Sophia Holeman-Galey shares the role with Lucy.

This cast is made up of eighth-grade advanced theater students under the direction of Dry, technical director Curtis Hooper; musical director Cassi Doherty. Cheer scenes and choreography was directed by Shannon Milazzo and Jacelyn Rasti. The set’s artwork was provided by Michelle Kohler.

The show will have two showings, 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the NMS Theatre. Tickets can be purchased at the door or online at http://nms.ticketleap.com/hsm.