You can chalk this up to "oh well, that's just the way it is"; some schools have more resources from alums and parents than others. Roosevelt has a long history of putting on plays and musicals so this isn't some new thing. But I think high schools, at different points in their history, have always put on plays (with musicals tending to be a lot more expensive to stage).
I bring this up both to ask the question, "Is this fair? Does it matter?" and to ask "Is it a good thing to have so much attention/resources/efforts focused on non-core academics?" Athletics and arts are a major way to keep kids involved in high school so they are wonderful at keeping some kids in school. Is it important to have what would be considered (in athletic terms) schools that are farm teams for music and drama? Should that be important for high schools to have in this age of deep concern over academics?
I'll end with a letter to the Times on this issue that has another take on this issue:
" 'High school musicals' on the escalating costs of high-school drama productions, provides yet another example of how American adults are chipping away at the experience of being a child.
Biologically and psychologically, humans are engineered to go through a staged lifecycle. Our nation's adults are short-circuiting that natural process. Our economic greed drives us to view them, not as children, but as a market to be sold increasingly adult products. Interweaving our adult egos with their activities, we deny them the joy of experiencing unstructured play by making winning the objective of all activity.
As adults, we seek personal recognition and a furthering of our own ambitions by demanding that they perform as professionals, not the curious and exploring amateurs that they naturally are. All of this represents a massive failure of our needed role as grounded, sensible adults in the lives of our children. This failure does not come without consequences.
Modern medicine is allowing people to live much longer lives. Our children will have plenty of time to live ambition-driven, stressed-out lives and to lust after endless consumer products.
If, as a society, we genuinely loved our children, we would allow them to enjoy a few years of innocence unencumbered by our frenetic adult pathology.
— Dick Schwartz, Bellevue