After all, three years ago, they produced "Oz," a show that not only was named the best high school musical theater show in the state by the Paper Mill Playhouse's Rising Star competition, but a year later, had an extended stay Off-Broadway in New York.
So the talented kids of High Tech have some high standards to uphold.
The students at the county's High Tech High With that in mind, they've decided to perform a show based on a character that was featured in the supermarket tabloid known as the Weekly World News. Yes, that insane conglomeration of bizarre tales which featured stories like Elvis being spotted in a 7-11 and a space alien endorsing Bill Clinton.
And then, there was the heartwarming, popular saga of the "Batboy," the half-boy, half-bat creature that has been plastered over the front pages of Weekly World News for more than 20 years.
That same Batboy will be the subject of the latest musical production by the talented kids at High Tech.
"When my father heard that we were doing 'Batboy,'" said High Tech junior Sarah Davie, a performing arts and dance major at the school, "he wanted to know if it was about baseball."
"Batboy: The Musical," will be performed by the students of High Tech from April 6 through April 10, with nine performances over those five days.
Alex Perez, the performing arts teacher at the school, is directing his 11th production at High Tech, and he's becoming enthralled with the work.
"It's easily becoming one of my favorites, because it has been the most fun," said Perez, who has twice been honored by the Rising Star competition for his directing work. "The kids have been working so diligently on their performances, even behind the scenes, with fundraising, the technical work, the costumes, the choreography. They've taken a lot of the initiative to do things themselves."
Once again, Perez only offers guidance to the students during the production. All of the other work, both on stage and off, is done by the students.
The show, which had a limited run by a professional production Off-Broadway three years ago, is loosely based on the Weekly World News features. It is the story of a half-bat, half-boy that is discovered in a cave in Hope Falls, W. Va., and a veterinarian takes him into the family's home.
"There's conflict in the town about the batboy," Perez said. "The family finds that the town is against the batboy. It's almost similar to Frankenstein. I became enthralled with the story and its message of judging people and tolerance. And the music is outstanding."
Perez said that he remembered the original newspaper articles in Weekly World News and became interested in the Batboy saga.
"I actually became a little obsessed by him," Perez said. "I was amazed with the crazy cult following that Batboy had."
Learning about the Batboy
But the performing students had no idea about the premise of Batboy or the wacky articles.
"When Mr. Perez presented it, I didn't know what it was about," said junior Joe Gehrmann, who is portraying Batboy in the production. "I had no idea. When he presented it, I thought it had something to do with old classic horror movies. He said something about the Weekly World News, but I didn't know."
"I never heard of it," said Sasha Formoso, a senior who portrays Meredith Parker, the mother of the household that takes in Batboy. "I think everyone is pretty much the same. No one knows about it. But when I learned about it, I became completely intrigued and needed to know what kind of musical could come from it. And it's a great show. It's a great show to be a part of."
Davie has an interesting role. She plays the role of Dr. Thomas Parker. Yes, she's portraying a man.
But Davie is used to crossing the gender barriers, because she is one of the best players on High Tech's boys' soccer team, having earned All-HCIAA Seglio honors as a defender in each of the last two seasons.
"I thought it would be a challenge playing a man," Davie said. "I have a wig, mustache and beard. I guess I'm pulling it off."
Perez said that he had no hesitation casting Davie in a male's role.
"She stepped in and said she wanted to give it a shot and she earned the role," Perez said. "It goes along with the premise of the show about tolerance and prejudice. Well, we can't have a prejudice with a girl playing a man's role. We have others who play the other gender in the cast. Sarah has been a part of our program for three years and has been very versatile. She's handled every aspect of a man's personality."
Davie said that she has had a lot of fun in the role and in doing the show.
"I'm having a ball," Davie said. "Every single rehearsal, something else happens. It's been the most amazing play. I always have to up the comedic side. When I told my Mom that I was playing a guy, she said, 'Oh, but Sarah, you're so girly.' I guess I'm not really."
Hanging like a bat
Gehrmann said that he has enjoyed portraying Batboy, right down to hanging from a bar in a cage and trying to perform at the same time, to the tedious procedure of putting on the Batboy makeup and teeth.
"It took me two months to get used to the teeth," Gehrmann said. "The ears also take a while to get on. But it's been an amazing part for me. Everyone likes stories like this. It's dark and different and everyone ends up loving the freak. There is never a dull moment and the music is definitely entertaining."
Formoso, a native of Hoboken who will graduate in June and pursue an acting career, said that the show has so much variety.
"It has a little bit of everything," Formoso said. "It has pop, rock, rap, country, lullabies. I can't even describe what it is in one word. It's a great show to be a part of, even if it is a little different."
Perez likes the idea that "Batboy: The Musical," is a lot different than your normal, run-of-the-mill high school production.
"I'm always looking to tap into the obscure," Perez said. "Something that no one has seen. Once I heard the music and realized the premise of the show, this was perfect for us. Anyone can do a regular show. This is a challenge."
"Batboy: The Musical," will be performed at High Tech High School from April 6 through April 10. There will be two shows on April 6, at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., with single shows at 7 p.m. on April 7 and 8. On April 9 and April 10, there will be two shows, at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets for the show are priced at $15 and can be purchased by calling (201) 854-2903 or by visiting the school during school hours.