Austin Price says he was a musician long before he was an actor, so acting in the role of a musician in Cumberland County Playhouse's upcoming production of "Disney's Camp Rock: The Musical" is not a stretch for the Crossville native.
"What's cool for me," he said, "is it's almost like I'm playing myself."
The Tennessee premiere of the show opens Saturday and features Price portraying Shane Gray, one of three brothers in the story of two rival summer camps, Camp Rock and Camp Star, who battle for bragging rights.
The Gray brothers were originally played by the Jonas Brothers in the Disney television shows on which the production is based.
"We went in and tried to do a new spin on it," said Gray, who's played the guitar and banjo for years. "From what I saw, they're a little quirkier than the three of us in this show. We just went in and tried to do our own thing. I think it feels more realistic, more heartfelt."
While the 21-year-old is a member of the playhouse's resident company, he said the show features "a lot of new talent" not only from Crossville but from communities as far away as Knoxville.
"We've never had [young] talent this great," Gray said. "It's cool to see a new generation."
Because the production "requires a lot from everybody physically and vocally," he said, no actor is younger than 13.
Price, who studied musical theater at Shenandoah University, said the show, with a cast of 60, features a variety of music from pop and rock to R&B and hip-hop.
"The show is amazing," he said. "You flip through the CD [of the soundtrack], and any song could be one you hear on the radio. It's nonstop. There is very little dialogue. It's just number after number."
A "great" set design and "unbelievable" lighting design add to a show that "has so much, is so full and so raw," Price said.
The plot of the show is essentially the plot of "Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam" but also has a few songs from the original "Camp Rock." Yet, he said, it's also a little different from the movie.
"Everybody has found their moment," Price said. "It's really, really great -- a great spectacle. There's so much to see at one time."
Contact Clint Cooper at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6497.
* What: "Disney's Camp Rock: The Musical."
* When: Saturday-March 12.
* Where: Cumberland County Playhouse, 221 Tennessee Ave., Crossville, Tenn.
* Admission: $7-$21.
* Phone: 931-484-5000.
* Website: www.ccplayhouse.com.