High School Musical
With a plot described by the author and numerous critics as a modern adaptation of Romeo & Juliet, High School Musical is a story about two high school juniors from rival stereotypical cliques. The protagonists are Troy Bolton (Zac Efron), a basketball team captain, and Gabriella Montez (Vanessa Hudgens), a shy transfer student excelling in math and science. Together, they try out for the lead parts in their high school musical, and this causes division among all the school's students. Despite other students' attempts to thwart their dreams, Troy and Gabriella aim to resist peer pressure and rivalry and wish to inspire others along the way not to "stick to the status quo." However, they have to battle high school diva Sharpay Evans (Ashley Tisdale) and her twin brother Ryan (Lucas Grabeel). Sharpay and Ryan both seek to sabotage the friendship and romance between Troy and Gabriella and gain the leads in the school musical.
Principal photography for High School Musical took place in Utah, with East High School and Murray High School used as locations, as well as Salt Lake City. Additional scenes were filmed in Los Angeles.
Upon its release on January 20, 2006, it became the most commercially successful Disney Channel Original Movie (DCOM) ever produced. In the U.S., High School Musical generated 7.7 million viewers in its premiere broadcast, which is one of the highest the network has generated. Internationally, the film has also seen considerable success; as of 2019, over 225 million viewers have watched High School Musical. The film's soundtrack was also successful as it peaked at number one in the United States, with "Breaking Free" reaching number four. The film received mixed reviews from critics, but was praised by TV audiences upon its debut.
The film's success spawned a media franchise and series of sequels, High School Musical 2 (2007) and High School Musical 3: Senior Year (2008), with the latter being a theatrical release. It is the first DCOM to have a theatrical sequel.
On New Year's Eve, high school juniors Troy Bolton (Zac Efron) and Gabriella Montez (Vanessa Hudgens) meet at a ski lodge party during winter break. The two are called upon to sing a duet together for karaoke ("Start of Something New"). Returning to school after break, Troy sees Gabriella in his homeroom. She explains that she has just moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, and transferred to East High School over the break. As Troy shows Gabriella around the school, Drama Club President and East High's designated "Ice Princess" Sharpay Evans (Ashley Tisdale) assumes that Gabriella is interested in auditioning for the school musical, Twinkle Town. Wanting to eliminate competition, Sharpay has Scholastic Decathlon Captain and Chem Club president Taylor McKessie (Monique Coleman) investigate Gabriella's past academic achievements to recruit Gabriella for the Scholastic Decathlon. As a result, Taylor and Gabriella became friends over their shared interests.
During basketball practice, Troy is distracted by thoughts of Gabriella and the idea that he might enjoy singing in addition to basketball ("Get'cha Head in the Game"). Gabriella and Troy go to the musical auditions where Sharpay and her twin brother Ryan Evans (Lucas Grabeel) perform ("What I've Been Looking For"). However, Troy and Gabriella are too shy to audition. When Gabriella gains the confidence to step forward once the auditions are unofficially declared "over", Troy offers to sing with her. However, drama teacher Ms. Darbus (Alyson Reed) tells them they are too late and leaves. Kelsi Nielsen (Olesya Rulin), the musical's composer, trips and drops her music all over the stage. Troy and Gabriella rush to help her and sing together as Kelsi plays on the piano ("What I've Been Looking For (Reprise)"). Overhearing their performance, Ms. Darbus gives them a callback audition.
When the callback list gets posted, Sharpay discovers that she has competition for the lead role, while the Wildcats basketball team is shocked that Troy has auditioned. After finding out that Troy can do activities outside his clique, other students confess their secret passions and talents ("Stick to the Status Quo"). This alarms Taylor and Troy's best friend Chad Danforth (Corbin Bleu). Taylor and Chad come up with a plan to divert Troy and Gabriella from singing in the musical so they can focus on their upcoming competitions.
In the locker room, Troy is tricked by his teammates into saying that Gabriella is not needed. Gabriella watches this via a hidden webcam that the scholastic decathlon team has set up. Upset by Troy's betrayal ("When There Was Me and You"), Gabriella decides to not audition for the musical. Troy, confused by Gabriella's decision, is unable to concentrate on the game, while Gabriella is low in spirits. Realizing their mistake, Chad and the basketball team tell Troy what happened and offer to support him in the callbacks. Taylor also explains to Gabriella but she doesn't believe Taylor's claims. That evening Troy goes to Gabriella's house, and they reconcile, determined to audition for the musical.
Overhearing Gabriella and Troy rehearse, Sharpay asks Ms. Darbus to move the callbacks so they start at the same time as both Troy's basketball championship game and Gabriella's scholastic decathlon competition. Kelsi overhears the conversation, and the basketball and decathlon teams make a plan together. On the day of the competitions, Taylor and Gabriella use the school's computers to delay the championship game by hacking the power in the gym and causing a chemical reaction that forces an evacuation during the decathlon. Troy and Gabriella rush to the auditorium as Sharpay and Ryan finish their callback song ("Bop to the Top"). After Gabriella and Troy successfully perform their song ("Breaking Free"), Ms. Darbus gives them the lead roles, making Sharpay and Ryan understudies.
Both teams win their respective competitions, and the entire school gathers in the gym to celebrate ("We're All In This Together"). Chad asks Taylor out, and Sharpay makes peace with Gabriella.
In a post-credits scene, Zeke Baylor (Chris Warren Jr.) paces alone in the gym, when Sharpay runs in, declaring that the cookies he had given her that she had initially rejected are "genius". She hugs him, and he says he will make her a crème brûlée. Zeke smiles in victory.
- Zac Efron as Troy Bolton, the most popular male student at East High School and the captain of the varsity basketball team. (Because the role of Troy was written for a tenor and Efron is a baritone, singer and actor Drew Seeley provided some of the character's singing voice.)
- Vanessa Hudgens as Gabriella Montez, a transfer student who joins the scholastic decathlon team. She develops an attraction to Troy after meeting him at a new year's party.
- Lucas Grabeel as Ryan Evans, a member of the drama club who aids his twin sister, Sharpay, in sabotaging Gabriella's relationship with Troy.
- Ashley Tisdale as Sharpay Evans, an energetic and proud student with a love of theatre and being the center of attention—particularly Troy's. She employs her twin brother, Ryan, in her schemes.
- Corbin Bleu as Chad Danforth, Taylor's love interest and a friend to Troy, Jason, and Zeke.
- Monique Coleman as Taylor McKessie, captain of the school's scholastic decathlon team who is Chad's love interest and a friend to Gabriella, Martha, and Kelsi. She looks down on basketball players and cheerleaders, believing them to be airheads.
- Joey Miyashima as Dave Matsui, principal at East High.
- Bart Johnson as Jack Bolton, Troy's father and the coach of the basketball team. He dislikes Ms. Darbus, and theater and believes that Gabriella is a distraction from Troy's basketball career.
- Olesya Rulin as Kelsi Nielsen, an underappreciated pianist and composer. She is initially shy and subservient to Sharpay.
- Chris Warren Jr. as Zeke Baylor, a member of the basketball team who enjoys baking and admires Sharpay.
- Ryne Sanborn as Jason Cross, a member of the basketball team who tends to ask mundane questions in class.
- Kaycee Stroh as Martha Cox, a peppy brainiac who enjoys hip-hop.
- Alyson Reed as Ms. Darbus, a stern drama teacher who dislikes Mr. Bolton, sports, and cell phones.
- Irene Santiago-Baron as Ms. Tenny, a chemistry teacher at East High.
- Socorro Herrera as Lisa Montez, Gabriella's mother, whose job makes them subject to frequent relocation.
- Leslie Wing Pomeroy as Lucille Bolton, Troy's mother.
- Joyce Cohen as Ms. Falstaff, the librarian at East High.
- Dave Fox as Coach Kellogg, another coach at East High.
- Anne Kathryn Parma as Susan, a girl who unsuccessfully auditions for the winter musical.
- Nick Whitaker as Alan, a boy who unsuccessfully auditions for the winter musical.
- Falcon Grace as Cyndra, a girl who unsuccessfully auditions for the winter musical.
The soundtrack was released on January 10, 2006, and debuted at number 133 on the Billboard 200, selling 7,469 copies in its first week. In the album's third week, for the chart dated February 11, 2006, it climbed to number ten, and has since risen to number one on the Billboard 200 twice (on March 1 and 22) and had shipped 3.8 million copies on December 5, 2006. Out of those copies, more than three million copies have been sold by August 2006; it was certified quadruple platinum by the RIAA.
Broadcast and reception
On its premiere, the film was a success with 7.7 million viewers. However, the reviews were mixed. On Rotten Tomatoes, it has a rating of 63%, while Common Sense Media rated it at 4/5 stars.
Kevin Carr gave the film a score of 3/5, saying, "The filmmakers were just trying to tell a story. Sex, drugs and violence just didn't factor into that equation." On the other hand, David Nusair gave the film a negative review with a score of 1.5/4 saying, "...it's difficult to imagine even the most die-hard fan of musicals finding anything here worth embracing." Scott Weinberg also gave the film a negative review saying, "A schmaltzy little piece of obvious fluff that's directed in truly horrendous fashion and populated by cardboard characters who spit out simplistic platitudes and breathy pop tunes."
The DVD went on sale on May 23, 2006, under the title, High School Musical: Encore Edition. It created a sales record when 1.2 million copies were sold in its first six days, making it the fastest-selling television film of all time. It is, however, the second DCOM (Disney Channel Original Movie) on DVD to be certified Platinum in DVD sales, the first being The Cheetah Girls. The High School Musical DVD was also released in Australia on July 12, 2006, through Walt Disney, as well as on European Region 2 on December 4, 2006, where it went on to reach number one in the UK DVD charts. It also aired on Disney Channel South Africa, the latest Disney channel at that time in the southern hemisphere. It was the top-selling DVD in Australia in August 2006. High School Musical also became the first Disney Channel Original Movie to be released on Region 3 DVD, when it went on sale on October 10 and December 15 in Hong Kong and Taiwan, respectively. It was released in Mexico on November 10 and in Brazil on December 6 to coincide with Christmas and the Rede Globo broadcast of the film. It was released in New Zealand on July 12, 2006, and was awarded most popular pre-teen movie in New Zealand for 2006
High School Musical was the first feature-length video content from the iTunes Store in mid-March 2006. At the time, it was available as a 320x240 resolution 487MB download for $9.99 after initially being mistakenly listed for $1.99.
The Remix Edition, a 2-disc Special Edition, was released on December 5, 2006. The Remix DVD went on sale in France on June 20, 2007. in Germany on September 13, 2007, and in the UK on September 10, 2007. As of 2010, the film has sold eight million DVD units, earning an operating income of $100 million.
Despite being filmed in the 16:9 (1.78:1) aspect ratio, both the original and Remix Edition DVD releases featured a 4:3 (1.33:1) "full screen" version (though not pan and scan as the camera stays directly in the center of the image), the format of the film as shown on the Disney Channel. The widescreen, high definition version is available exclusively on Disney Blu-ray in North America and has subsequently been showing in the UK and Ireland on BBC One and BBC HD, and RTÉ One. The HD version is also available on the video section of PlayStation Store, as well as on Sony Entertainment online for the US market.
Sequels and spin-offs
High School Musical 2 (2007)
High School Musical 2 is the first sequel. It debuted on August 17, 2007, on Disney Channel in the U.S., and on Family in Canada. The premiere brought in a total of 17.3 million viewers in the United States—almost 10 million more than its predecessor—making it (at the time of its airing) the highest-rated Disney Channel Movie to date and the most viewed television film to date.
High School Musical 3: Senior Year (2008)
High School Musical 3: Senior Year is the third installment in Disney's High School Musical franchise. It was released to theaters across the United States on October 24, 2008. Kenny Ortega returned as director and choreographer, as did all six primary actors.
Sharpay's Fabulous Adventure (2011)
Sharpay's Fabulous Adventure is a spin-off and direct-to-DVD film starring Ashley Tisdale. The film features Sharpay Evans trying to get a role in a Broadway show following graduation. The film was released as a Blu-ray and DVD combination pack on April 19, 2011.
In early 2016, Disney announced that a fourth installment of the series was "in the works", later announcing a casting call for the film, tentatively referred to as High School Musical 4. In March 2016, details about the film's prospective principal characters were reported.
In 2019, Disney announced the release of their own television series based on the High School Musical franchise that was released on Disney+ on November 12, 2019. The series, titled High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, focuses on the newly enrolled set of East High Wildcats putting together a production of High School Musical.
In April 2020, the cast of High School Musical joined with the cast of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series and others to sing "We're All in This Together" from their homes during the Disney sing-along special on ABC during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Bad Lip Reading version
On July 11, 2016, Disney XD released a half-hour overdubbed version of High School Musical to its YouTube channel in collaboration with Bad Lip Reading, a popular YouTube channel known for making parody dubs of various clips from films, TV shows, songs, sports, and political news stories that perfectly matches the lip movements of the targets. The story in this version is essentially similar to the original with new dialogue, the lead characters now being "Chorky" and "Lumpkinella", the latter secretly being a robot who escaped from a secure government facility.
High School Musical: El desafio (Argentina) is a spin-off for the Argentine market, based on the book "Battle of the Bands". The film arrived in Argentine theatres on July 17, 2008.
High School Musical: O Desafio is a spin-off of the American film High School Musical. The Brazilian spin-off is based on the book Battle of the Bands. The film was released in Brazilian theatres on February 5, 2010.
Disney High School Musical China (歌舞青春), also called High School Musical China: College Dreams is a Chinese version of the American series, released in North America on DVD under the Disney World Cinema Brand. Film Business Asia critic Derek Elley rated the adaptation three points out of ten and called the choreography by former Madonna dancer, Ruthy Inchaustegui, and songs "bland". However, Elley picked the three songs as "half-memorable": "the ballad 'Rainy Season' (梅雨季) [sung by] two lead[ing characters,] the glitzy 'Perfection' (完美) [by] the college rich-bitch[,] and [the] climatic 'I Can Fly' (我飛故我在), which doesn't quite succeed at being an anthemnal [sic], uplifting ballad."
On stage performances
The High School Musical: The Concert tour started on November 29, 2006, kicking off in San Diego, California. The tour continued until January 28, 2007, performing in major cities around the United States, Canada, and Latin America. The concert featured all of the original cast members except for Zac Efron, who was shooting Hairspray. Efron was replaced by Drew Seeley (whose voice was blended with Efron's during the film). The concert featured the original songs from the film, as well as songs from Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, and Corbin Bleu.
North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly, MA had a stage production of High School Musical running until the end of July 2007, featuring Broadway actor Andrew Keenan-Bolger and Kate Rockwell, a semi-finalist on Grease: You're the One that I Want!, as Sharpay. Pacific Repertory Theatre's School of Dramatic Arts staged the California premiere in 2007 (which it revived in 2008), and presented the West Coast premiere of High School Musical 2 in January 2009.
Theatre of the Stars in Atlanta, Georgia was the first professional company to put on High School Musical.
"Feld Entertainment" produced global tour titled, High School Musical: The Ice Tour which had its world premiere in New York City on September 29, 2007. The cast included 2004 World Junior Bronze Medalist Jordan Brauninger and 2004–2005 Australian national champion Bradley Santer. The show contained elements and songs from both the original film and its sequel, High School Musical 2 and featured a special preview of High School Musical 3: Senior Year when the movie of the same name premiered in theatres.
In June 2006, Disney Press published High School Musical: The Junior Novel, the novelization of the successful film. This novel hit number one on the New York Times best-selling list and remained on the list for sixteen weeks. As of August 2007, the novel has sold more than 4.5 million copies, with 1 million copies of the novel's follow-up, High School Musical 2: The Junior Novel, being shipped to American retailers. High School Musical 3: Senior Year: The Junior Novel came out on September 23, 2008. Shortly after the success of the original novel, Disney announced that a book series, entitled Stories from East High, would be published in February 2007 with a new book being published every 60 days until July 2008.
During July and August 2008, ABC broadcast a reality competition based on the series, High School Musical: Get in the Picture hosted by Nick Lachey. The winner of the show appeared in a music video during the credits of High School Musical 3. The series premiered to poor ratings, with the show coming in fourth place in its timeslot. In the UK, a reality show titled Hairspray: The School Musical premiered in 2008 on Sky1. It saw a team of vocal coaches, acting coaches and choreographers hold auditions at a regular comprehensive school where a mix of students could audition for a West End production of the hit Broadway musical, Hairspray. Although the musical being performed was not High School Musical, the film was the inspiration behind the show. The show was presented by Denise Van Outen and was credited, along with High School Musical, for inspiring a generation of children in the United Kingdom to get into theatrical work.
- High School Musical: The Music in You
- Sunday School Musical