High School Musical (franchise)

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High School Musical
High School Musical Series Logo.png
Film series logo
Directed by
Produced by
Written by
Music by
  • Gordon Lonsdale (1-2)
  • Daniel Aranyò (3)
Edited bySeth Flaum
  • First Street Films (1-2)
  • Salty Pictures (1-2)
  • Borden and Rosenbush Entertainment (3)
Distributed by
Release date
Running time
  • 404 minutes (1-3)
  • 417 minutes (Extended)
CountryUnited States
Budget$22.2 million (3 films)
Box office$253 million (total)

The High School Musical franchise consists of three Disney musical romantic comedy-drama films directed by Kenny Ortega and created by Peter Barsocchini with a fourth installment in pre-production. It stars Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Lucas Grabeel, Corbin Bleu, and Monique Coleman. The original film was released simply as a Disney Channel Original Movie, but after its huge success, it was followed by a television sequel. The third film received a theatrical release. Tisdale and Grabeel reprised their roles as Sharpay and Ryan Evans in a spin-off on the series titled Sharpay's Fabulous Adventure,[1] ultimately released as a direct-to-video film. Numerous international versions have been created, plus stage musicals and video games have been released, among other things. On March 1, 2016, a fourth installment was announced.[2] In November 2017, a television spin-off of the franchise was announced to be in development.[3] The films have developed a cult following.[4]

Film series[edit]

High School Musical (2006)[edit]

High School Musical was released on January 20, 2006 as a Disney Channel Original Movie (DCOM), and was the most successful DCOM ever produced.[5] The film was Disney Channel's most watched DCOM in 2006, with 7.7 million viewers for its premiere broadcast in the United States,[6] and 789,000 viewers for its UK premiere. It was the first DCOM ever to be broadcast by BBC on December 29, 2006, and has been viewed by over 225 million people worldwide.[7] The first film's leads were Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale and Lucas Grabeel, who sang most of the songs.

The film follows star athlete Troy Bolton (Zac Efron) and shy, smart Gabriella Montez (Vanessa Hudgens). Troy and Gabriella meet while vacationing at a ski lodge over Christmas Break and inadvertently participate in a karaoke contest together ("Start of Something New"). When school starts in January, drama queen Sharpay Evans (Ashley Tisdale) makes a dramatic entrance at East High, Troy's school. At this point, Gabriella is revealed to be a new transfer student to the school; she and Troy reconnect. Later that day, the pair are seen talking at the sign-up sheet for the Winter Musical by Sharpay. Her twin brother and co-president Ryan (Lucas Grabeel) notices that Troy seems interested in the sign-up sheet. Sharpay learns that Gabriella was a top student at her old schools and convinces Scholastic Decathlon captain Taylor McKessie (Monique Coleman) to invite Gabriella to the team as a distraction from auditioning. Troy's best friend, Chad Danforth (Corbin Bleu), is concerned that Troy's mind seems to have wandered away from basketball despite being varsity team captain and struggles to keep his attention.

As the day of auditions quickly approaches, Troy and Gabriella are too shy to come forward, after watching Sharpay and Ryan perform their own flashy arrangement of a love song ("What I've Been Looking For"). Kelsi Nielsen (Olesya Rulin), the composer and writer of the musical, objects, but is ridiculed by Sharpay. Following the audition, Troy and Gabriella pluck up the courage to come forward, but drama teacher Ms. Darbus (Alyson Reed) declares it too late to audition, and they are left crestfallen. As they are about to leave, Kelsi trips and drops her music. After helping her pick it up, they listen to her play the intended version of the song. Ms. Darbus overhears Troy and Gabriella singing and invites them to a callback.

When the school finds out that Troy and Gabriella have auditioned for the Winter Musical, everyone fears the status quo of the school is drastically changing, and Sharpay gets frustrated and worried ("Stick to the Status Quo"). Chad and Taylor are afraid that their respective teams will fall to pieces, so the pair stage individual interventions and get Troy and Gabriella to change their minds about their respective auditions. This particularly affects Gabriella, who now believes that Troy didn't really care about their friendship ("When There Was Me And You"). Upon realizing the damage they have caused, Chad and Taylor's respective groups feel guilty and fix the situation. When word comes that Troy and Gabriella are still interested in auditioning, Sharpay and Ryan convince Ms. Darbus to change the date of the callbacks to the same date as the game and the Decathlon. The pair go on as planned with their audition ("Bop to the Top"). Fearful that their friends will be unable to attend the callbacks, Chad and Taylor stage a school-wide computer glitch that forces the whole school to stop the game and the Decathlon, and lead all the students into the auditorium. When Troy and Gabriella are late, Ms. Darbus considers cancelling Troy and Gabriella's callback; however, they arrive in the nick of time and sing ("Breaking Free"). In the end, Ms. Darbus decides to award the lead roles to Troy and Gabriella, making Sharpay and Ryan understudies. Sharpay is saddened that she didn't get the lead role in the musical, but does not retain any hard feelings. The film ends with the entire school gathering in the gym to celebrate East High's basketball victory ("We're All in This Together").

In a post-credits scene, Zeke Baylor (Chris Warren Jr.) is the only one left in the gym; he's approached by Sharpay, who has developed a love for his baking.

High School Musical 2 (2007)[edit]

It's the end of the school year, and everyone's excited for summer vacation ("What Time is It?"). Gabriella is happy to finally be spending her summer vacation without having to move. When the whole gang gets hired at Lava Springs Country Club as summer help, resident drama queen Sharpay, whose parents own the club, is concerned that the Wildcats are once again marching in on her territory ("Fabulous"). While taking time out of her day to convince club manager Mr. Fulton (Mark L. Taylor) to intimidate the Wildcats into quitting ("Work This Out").

Meanwhile, the club is preparing for the end-of-summer talent show, and the piano-playing Kelsi has written a special ballad especially for Troy and Gabriella ("You Are the Music in Me"), one that Sharpay would like rearranged for just her and Troy. Sharpay schemes to win over Troy by offering him various luxuries, including a chance for a college scholarship. Although Troy says he's committed to his relationship with Gabriella, Gabriella grows concerned after hearing he's spending more time with Sharpay. When Ryan discovers that Sharpay is no longer interested in his talent due to her pursuit of Troy, he finds himself spending more time with the Wildcats, even playing against Chad in a staff baseball game ("I Don't Dance"), one that Troy skips to attend a college hoops practice which Sharpay has indirectly set up. Ryan even goes so far as to secretly prepare a special dance number for the Wildcats to perform at the talent show. When Sharpay stumbles upon the Wildcats' rehearsal, she orders Mr. Fulton, to disallow all Junior Staff to partake in the talent show, namely the Wildcats. Fulton draws up a quick memo and pushes Activities Director, Taylor (Monique Coleman), to notify the staff.

Troy's good mood suddenly turns sour when everyone starts ignoring him. After a devastating rehearsal with Sharpay for the talent show ("You Are the Music in Me (Reprise)"), Troy loses Gabriella ("Gotta Go My Own Way"), who informs him of her frustration with Sharpay's scheme and quits her job at Lava Springs. He discovers the reason for his friends' coldness when Kelsi quietly passes him Mr. Fulton's memo ("Bet on It"). An angry Troy then confronts Sharpay and tells her he has to break his promise and not sing with her. When Chad and the Wildcats find out he's no longer singing in the show, they push him to go back to Sharpay, and only moments before the show does Ryan tell Troy she picked a different song. When Troy announces his disappointment to Sharpay of the change, Sharpay is left surprised and confused- she never chose another song. As the final act, Troy is on stage singing solo, not knowing what to expect. Gabriella surprisingly comes back and joins him. The rest of the Wildcats soon come on stage as well to complete the musical number ("Everyday"). Sharpay learns her lesson in humility and is invited to join in; instead of awarding the Star Dazzle Trophy (given to the best act) to herself as usual, she chooses to give it to Ryan. Afterwards, the gang enjoys viewing the fireworks while Troy and Gabriella share their first kiss.

Everyone celebrates the end of the summer with a staff pool party ("All for One").

High School Musical 3: Senior Year (2008)[edit]

It's the end of the Wildcats' championship basketball game against the West High Knights, where team captain Troy immediately rallies their spirits ("Now or Never"). At Troy's after-party, Troy and his girlfriend, Gabriella, are seen sitting in Troy's treehouse reflecting about the past year and picturing how their last few months at East High would end ("Right Here, Right Now").

The following week at East High, Sharpay made another dramatic entrance and Ms. Darbus is alarmed when few students sign up to audition for the Spring Musical, and Sharpay suggests that she perform a one-woman show. Quickly, the discouraged playwright, Kelsi, scribbles on the sign up sheet everyone in her homeroom class, including Sharpay, Ryan, Troy, Gabriella, and the less than enthusiastic Chad, Taylor, and other fellow Wildcats. Conclusively, Ms. Darbus announces that the Spring Musical will reflect the students' final days at East High. Ms. Darbus also announces that she will select one student for a Juilliard scholarship with Sharpay, Ryan, Kelsi, and Troy under consideration. Desperate to win the scholarship and knowing Kelsi will give the lead roles to Troy and Gabriella, Sharpay tries to persuade Ryan (Lucas Grabeel) to help her convince Kelsi to consider them instead by predicting their future in theater ("I Want It All").

Prom is around the corner, and Chad asks Taylor to be his date. She declines because she feels him to be unenthused about the event. Subsequently, Chad jumps onto a table and announces to the entire cafeteria that he is interested in having Taylor be his date, and she accepts ("A Night to Remember"). Meanwhile, Gabriella, in a surprise move, finds out that she has a chance to attend college really early. Sharpay told Troy that Gabriella is going to Stanford early. Troy encourages Gabriella to go, convinced that he is the only reason holding her back. However, on Prom night, Troy drives out to pick up Gabriella as East High is not the same without her. Days later, the play finally goes on as planned ("Spring Musical"), and Sharpay is prepared for the last musical at East High. At the close of the evening, Ms. Darbus announces that both Kelsi and Ryan each received the scholarship to Juilliard. Troy's final choice is Berkeley, a school not far from Gabriella's ("We're All in This Together (Graduation Mix)").

The film concludes with a big celebratory graduation ("High School Musical"), and then, like a stage musical, has closeups of the lead actors.

High School Musical 4[edit]

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.[2][8] In March 2016, details about the film's prospective principal characters were reported.[9]

Cast members[edit]

Characters Films Spin-off film
High School Musical High School Musical 2 High School Musical 3: Senior Year Sharpay's Fabulous Adventure
2006 2007 2008 2011
Troy Bolton Zac Efron
Gabriella Montez Vanessa Hudgens
Sharpay Evans Ashley Tisdale
Ryan Evans Lucas Grabeel
Chad Danforth Corbin Bleu
Taylor McKessie Monique Coleman
Coach Bolton Bart Johnson
Ms. Darbus Alyson Reed
Zeke Baylor Chris Warren Jr.
Kelsi Nielsen Olesya Rulin
Jason Cross Ryne Sanborn
Mrs. Montez Socorro Herrera Socorro Herrera
Principal Matsui Joey Miyashima Joey Miyashima
Mrs. Bolton Leslie Wing Pomeroy
Martha Cox Kaycee Stroh
Mr. Evans Robert Curtis Brown
Mrs. Evans Jessica Tuck
Mr. Fulton Mark L. Taylor
Mr. Danforth David Reivers
Mrs. Danforth Yolanda Wood
Tiara Gold Jemma McKenzie-Brown
Donnie Dion Justin Martin
Jimmie Zara Matt Prokop



Entertainment Weekly put it on its end-of-the-decade, "best-of" list, saying, "Call it children stuff. But HSM became a billion-dollar hit across screens big and small thanks to a love of song, dance, and happy endings. And that's pure, old-fashioned showbiz."[10] The original High School Musical sold 8 million DVD units, earning an operating income of $100 million.[11] East High School was chosen as the Number 1 Top Five Best High Schools from Movies and TV by St. Petersburg Times.[12]

Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic CinemaScore
High School Musical 56% (9 reviews)[13] N/A N/A
High School Musical 2 57% (7 reviews)[14] 72 (23 reviews)[15] N/A
High School Musical 3: Senior Year 65% (127 reviews)[16] 57 (26 reviews)[17] A[18]
Sharpay's Fabulous Adventure N/A N/A N/A
Average ratings 59% 64 A

Spin-off and remakes[edit]

Sharpay's Fabulous Adventure (2011)[edit]

Sharpay's Fabulous Adventure is a direct-to video film and spin-off starring Ashley Tisdale. The film looks at Sharpay's life after graduation, trying to get a role in a Broadway show. The film was released as a Blu-ray/DVD combination pack on April 19, 2011. The film takes place shortly after the graduation of the original cast. It starts with Sharpay Evans, the spin-off's protagonist, learning about the audition to a musical on Broadway. So, Sharpay travels to New York City with her dog Boi and meets Peyton Leverett (Austin Butler). Everything goes awry on such a "fabulous adventure" for Sharpay. One example includes Boi and another boy's (Bradley Steven Perry) dog running away. Searching for the pets, he and Sharpay find that the dogs are madly in love. By the end, Sharpay gets the part in a real Broadway musical and shares a kiss with Peyton. Then her twin brother Ryan Evans visits, to say that he is not in Juilliard with Kelsi as hinted in Senior Year.

High School Musical: The Challenge[edit]

High School Musical: The Challenge refers to the English name of a series of spin-offs of the American film High School Musical for the Latin American market, based on the book Battle of the Bands. The films were scripted for a theatrical release and had eight new songs produced exclusively for the film. The film was first adapted in Argentina in February 2008 with the title High School Musical: El Desafío, for Mexico in August 2008 and then for Brazil, with the title High School Musical: O Desafio in 2010.

The team captain discovers that the girl next door has changed a lot over the summer. Meanwhile, the mean girl is still as vain as ever and overshadows her poor brother and his "invisible" friends. When the school year begins, the school announces a "Battle of the Bands" contest. Working against the clock and with limited resources, both cliques pull their respective forces together for the big day. However, in an effort to win, dreams are thwarted, and only one band will be the winner.

High School Musical: China[edit]

High School Musical: China (歌舞青春),[19] (also known as High School Musical: China – College Dreams) is a spin-off of the High School Musical series for the Chinese market. It was released in August 2011. The film is a Chinese version of the American series, released in North America on DVD under the Disney World Cinema Brand.[20] 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."[19]

High School Musical: The Musical[edit]

On November 9, 2017, a television spin-off was announced to be in development.[3] On September 6, 2018, Disney announced that it begun casting for a reimagining of the film for its upcoming streaming service, titled High School Musical: The Musical. The 10-episode series will be structured as a single-camera mockumentary, and feature both music from the original film, as well as new songs.[21][22]

On October 17, 2018, it was announced that Joshua Bassett would play the lead role of Ricky in the series.[23] The rest of the cast was announced on February 15, 2019, including Sofia Wylie as Gina, Kate Reinders as Miss Jenn, and Olivia Rodrigo as Nini.[24][25]


On January 20, 2016, to celebrate the movie’s 10th anniversary, the cast reunited and shared fond memories and photos from the past and present. The special aired on Disney Channel with Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Corbin Bleu, Lucas Grabeel and Monique Coleman in attendance. Zac Efron was absent because of Dirty Grandpa's promotion, but sent in a video sharing his memories about shooting the film and thanking fans.

In other media[edit]

Concert tour[edit]

The "High School Musical: The Concert" tour started on November 29, 2006, kicking off in San Diego. 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.

High School Musical: On Stage![edit]

Pacific Repertory Theatre's School of Dramatic Arts High School Musical Act 1 finale

High School Musical was adapted to a stage musical starting in early 2006 with two versions: a 70-minute One Act play and a full-length Two Act musical. On August 1, 2006, Playbill announced that the Stagedoor Manor summer theater camp, featured in the film Camp, would be the first venue to produce High School Musical on-stage. Pacific Repertory Theatre School of Dramatic Arts staged the California premiere in 2007, which was revived in 2008.

From early 2007 though the end of July, North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly, Massachusetts had a production of High School Musical that featured Broadway actor Andrew Keenan-Bolger as Ryan and Kate Rockwell, a semi-finalist on Grease: You're the One that I Want!, as Sharpay.

High School Musical 2 was later adapted to a stage musical starting in late 2008. Both theatrical versions include "Hummuhummunukunukuapua'a", a song cut from the film but included on the DVD. Pacific Repertory Theatre School of Dramatic Arts presented the West Coast premiere of High School Musical 2 in January 2009.[26] The production was directed by PacRep founder Stephen Moorer, who had directed the California premiere of the first High School Musical.[27]

Reality series[edit]

During July and August 2008, ABC broadcast a reality competition based on the series High School Musical: Get in the Picture, [28] hosted by Nick Lachey. The winner of the show appeared in a music video during the credits of High School Musical 3.[29] The series premiered to poor ratings, with the show coming in fourth place in its timeslot.[30]

Summer Celebration[edit]

High School Musical Summer Celebration was a touring music show featuring songs and dances from all three movies.[31] The show was produced by Feld Entertainment.[32]

Madison High TV pilot[edit]

In 2010, Disney announced their intention to film a television spin-off of the film series entitled Madison High and began casting that same year.[33] A pilot episode for the series was officially ordered in early 2011,[34] which would star Luke Benward, G. Hannelius, Leah Lewis, Katherine McNamara, Mark Indelicato, and Nolan Sotillo.[35] The episode contained four songs, and, if picked up, would have marked the first crossover and spin-off between a Disney Channel Original Movie and a Disney Channel Original Series. However, although the pilot was filmed, Madison High was not ordered to series, and the pilot episode had never aired.

Ice tour[edit]

"Feld Entertainment" produced a global tour titled High School Musical: The Ice Tour, which had its world premiere in New York City, on September 29, 2007.[36] 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 now features a special preview of High School Musical 3: Senior Year.


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.[37] 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.[37] "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.

Video games[edit]

Disney Interactive Studios has produced 6 High School Musical video games, all taking the guise of music video games incorporating songs and plots from the films.


Between 2007 and 2010, Disney Italia produced and published a series of comics starring the characters of the movies in an official magazine. Some of the stories have been published abroad, such as in Finland and Greece.

See also[edit]

  • Panorama High School was filmed as the location of the fictitious Madison High School during the first episode


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