Following in the musical footsteps of Grease and West Side Story, High School Musical is a loose retelling of Romeo and Juliet, set in a modern-day high school. Troy (Zac Efron) is the popular captain of the basketball team. Gabriella (Vanessa Hudgens) is the brainy new kid. Both face peer pressure in their own way, but trouble starts when they decide to try out for the lead roles in the school play - and in each other's hearts. Unlike Romeo and Juliet, High School Musical ends not with a tragic double-suicide, but with the student body realizing that cliques are, like, totally lame.
High School Musical premiered on the Disney Channel on January 20, 2006. It was an instant hit, setting a Disney Channel record with over 7.7 million viewers. When the DVD was released on May 23, 2006, it became the fastest selling TV movie of all time, with 1.2 million units sold in the first six days. Not surprisingly, the Disney Channel released High School Musical 2 on August 17 of this year - which promptly shattered the ratings record set by the original.
When 17.24 million viewers tuned into the High School Musical 2 premiere, they helped set the record for the highest ratings in cable television history. All of the main characters returned for the sequel, which takes place during summer vacation at the posh Lava Springs Country Club. Troy grows apart from his friends as the temptations of college basketball stardom beckon. Fortunately, before all is said and done, Troy learns that what matters is being himself, and staying true to his friends.
The breakout star of High School Musical is Zac Efron, who plays Troy. Efron has parlayed his performance in HSM into an appearance in the recent Hairspray film. Although Efron is a "triple threat" (meaning that he can act, sing, and dance), in the original film he does not do most of his own singing. If that doesn't crush your daughter's conception of him, maybe this will: According to the Internet Movie Database, Efron is also dating his HSM co-star, Vanessa Hudgens, in real life.
DVDs are just the start. The official soundtrack album of the movie has been certified quadruple-platinum, meaning over four million copies have been sold. Disney has also released a novelization of the film that spent 16 weeks atop the New York Times bestseller list, not to mention a series of original stories based on the High School Musical universe called Stories from East High. And finally, the karaoke video game High School Musical: Sing It! is scheduled to be released this fall for PlayStation 2 and Nintendo Wii.
The Live Show
Actually, there have been several different live versions of High School Musical. First was the concert, in which the original cast (minus Zac Efron) performed the songs live on stage. Next came High School Musical on Stage!, a mostly faithful adaptation of the film that opted to avoid the hilarious potential title, High School Musical: The Musical. And finally, Disney's High School Musical: The Ice Tour begins its United States engagements on August 31.
The High School Musical juggernaut doesn't show any signs of slowing. The third - and presumably final - film will be the first to be released in movie theaters instead of straight to television. Originally titled Haunted High School Musical, it now appears that High School Musical 3 will have a more traditional plot based on senior prom and graduation. As for the cast, Zac Efron has several other movie projects coming up, and Vanessa Hudgens has already begun a successful solo recording career.