The Disney Channel Original Movie High School Musical
is a combination of backstage action and Grease
without the unwholesome habits. Scoring record ratings at the time of its January 2006 broadcast, it's a smash hit with tween audiences (ages 6 to 10), but appealing for all ages. At a New Year's Eve party, Troy (Zac Efron of the WB's Summerland
) has a chance meeting with Gabriella (Vanessa Anne Hudgens) when they share a karaoke song. Lo and behold, when school resumes, they discover that Gabriella has just transferred to Troy's East High School, a campus divided into tight cliques of jocks, cheerleaders, brainiacs, and skater dudes. Eager to recapture the magic they'd discovered during karaoke, Troy and Gabriella consider auditioning for the school's upcoming musical, much to the dismay of the school's frost queen/theater goddess, Sharpay (Ashley Tisdale of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody
). Problem is, Troy is also the star of the basketball team and Gabrielle is being recruited to compete in the Scholastic Decathlon. Will they give up their cliques to start something new, or will they do as the show's first big anthem urges and "Stick to the Status Quo"? Well, this is a Disney movie, so maybe the sacrifices won't be that hard, and even the hints of romance are mild.
The bestselling soundtrack is catchy in that Disney-pop kind of way, mixing in a dash of hip-hop ("Getcha Head in the Game," punctuated by squeaky basketball shoes and other sound effects), salsa ("Bop to the Top"), and the endearingly hammy ("What I've Been Looking For" performed by Sharpay and her brother, Ryan, played by Lucas Gabreel). It's not hard to imagine High School Musical becoming a semi-staple for high school groups to perform themselves. DVD bonus features include sing-along subtitles; a 9-minute featurette discussing casting, recording sessions, and rehearsals; a multi-angle look at a rehearsal of "Bop to the Top"; and music videos for "We're All in This Together" and a song that didn't make it into the final film, "I Can't Take My Eyes Off of You," performed by Efron, Hudgens, Tisdale, and Gabreel. --David Horiuchi