High School Musical (franchise)

High School Musical is an American media franchise centered on a series of musical romantic comedy-drama films created by Peter Barsocchini. The franchise also includes stage musicals, books, comics, live shows, video games, and a television series.

High School Musical
High School Musical Series Logo.png
Created byPeter Barsocchini
Original workHigh School Musical (2006)
OwnerThe Walt Disney Company
Print publications
Book(s)List of books
ComicsList of comics
Films and television
Film(s)List of films
Television seriesHigh School Musical: The Musical: The Series (2019–present)
Theatrical presentations
Musical(s)List of stage musicals
Video game(s)List of video games
Soundtrack(s)List of soundtracks

The first 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. Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Lucas Grabeel, Corbin Bleu, and Monique Coleman starred in the trilogy. 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 both a direct-to-video film and a Disney Channel Original Movie. The franchise has developed a cult following.[2]

In November 2017, a television spin-off of the franchise was announced to be in development.[3] In November 2019, the series, titled High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, was released on Disney+.

Film seriesEdit

Film U.S. release date Director Screenwriter(s) Producer(s)
Main series
High School Musical January 20, 2006 (2006-01-20) Kenny Ortega Peter Barsocchini Don Schain
High School Musical 2 August 17, 2007 (2007-08-17)
High School Musical 3: Senior Year October 24, 2008 (2008-10-24) Bill Borden and Barry Rosenbush
Spin-off films
Sharpay's Fabulous Adventure April 19, 2011 (2011-04-19) Michael Lembeck Robert Horn Jonathan Hackett
International remakes
High School Musical: El Desafío (Argentina) July 17, 2008 (2008-07-17) Jorge Nisco Pablo Lago and Susana Cardozo Juan Pablo Galli, Juan Vera and Alejandro Cacetta
High School Musical: El Desafío (Mexico) September 5, 2008 (2008-09-05) Eduardo Ripari
High School Musical: O Desafio (Brazil) February 5, 2010 (2010-02-05) César Rodrigues Iafa Britz, Marcos Didonet, Vilma Lustosa and Walkiria Barbosa
High School Musical China: College Dreams September 6, 2011 (2011-09-06) Chen Shi-Zheng Li Lin Chen Shi-Zheng

Main seriesEdit

High School Musical (2006)Edit

Filmed in Utah,[4][5] High School Musical was released on January 20, 2006 as a Disney Channel Original Movie (DCOM), and was the highest-rated DCOM to that point,[6] watched by 7.7 million viewers for its premiere broadcast in the United States,[7] and by 789,000 viewers for its UK premiere. It was the first DCOM ever to be aired by BBC, broadcast on December 29, 2006, and has been viewed by over 225 million people worldwide.[8] The first film's leads were Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale and Lucas Grabeel, who sang most of the songs.

The film follows basketball star Troy Bolton (Zac Efron) and shy, smart Gabriella Montez (Vanessa Hudgens). After a chance meeting on winter break, Gabriella reconnects with Troy after transferring to East High School in Albuquerque. Drama queen Sharpay Evans (Ashley Tisdale), seeking to eliminate her competition for the Winter Musical, convinces Taylor McKessie (Monique Coleman) to invite Gabriella to the Scholastic Decathlon team. Troy's best friend Chad Danforth (Corbin Bleu) is concerned that Troy is distracted from basketball.

After Sharpay and her twin brother Ryan (Lucas Grabeel) perform a flashy audition for the musical, Troy and Gabriella manage to give their own performance and receive a callback. When the school finds out Troy and Gabriella have auditioned, everyone fears the status quo of the school is drastically changing, frustrating Sharpay. Chad and Taylor, afraid their respective teams will fail, try to intervene, leading Gabriella to believe Troy does not care about her. Guilty, Chad and Taylor’s teams fix what they have done.

Sharpay and Ryan convince drama teacher Ms. Darbus to change callbacks to the same date as the basketball championship and the Decathlon. Chad and Taylor stage a school-wide computer glitch that forces the school to stop the game and the Decathlon, and lead all the students into the auditorium. Troy and Gabriella arrive in the nick of time and are awarded the lead roles, while Sharpay and Ryan are understudies. The film ends as the entire school gathers in the gym to celebrate East High's basketball victory.

High School Musical 2 (2007)Edit

The first sequel to High School Musical was released on August 17, 2007 as a Disney Channel Original Movie (DCOM), breaking the previous film’s record as the most successful DCOM ever produced, with 17 million viewers for its premiere broadcast in the United States. The cast of the original film returned for the sequel.

At the end of the school year, Gabriella is happy to finally spend summer vacation without having to move. The whole gang is hired at Lava Springs Country Club, where Sharpay tries to convince manager Mr. Fulton (Mark L. Taylor) to intimidate the Wildcats into quitting.

As the club prepares for the end-of-summer talent show, Sharpay schemes to win Troy over with various luxuries, including a chance for a college scholarship, worrying Gabriella. Ryan, abandoned by Sharpay, spends more time with the Wildcats and secretly prepares a special dance number for them to perform at the talent show. Sharpay discovers this and orders Mr. Fulton to disallow all Junior Staff to partake in the talent show.

Ignored by his friends, Troy has a devastating rehearsal with Sharpay and loses Gabriella, who quits her job at Lava Springs. Realizing Sharpay’s scheme from Mr. Fulton's memo, Troy confronts Sharpay and refuses to sing with her. Chad and the Wildcats convince Troy to go back to Sharpay and the show. Ryan surprises Troy and Sharpay with a change in song – as the final act, Troy sings solo, when Gabriella unexpectedly joins him, along with the rest of the Wildcats. Sharpay learns her lesson in humility and is invited to join in; instead of awarding the Star Dazzle Trophy to herself as usual, she gives it to Ryan. Troy and Gabriella share their first kiss, and everyone celebrates the end of the summer with a staff pool party.

High School Musical 3: Senior Year (2008)Edit

The third installment in the High School Musical franchise premiered in London on October 17, 2008 and was theatrically released in the United States on October 24, 2008. Receiving generally positive reviews, it set a record for largest opening weekend for a musical film and became the highest-grossing film in the franchise.

Nearing the end of senior year, Troy rallies the Wildcats to basketball championship victory, and he and Gabriella reflect on their time at East High and their uncertain future. With most of the Wildcats recruited to the Spring Musical, which will present 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, Sharpay tries to persuade Ryan to help her convince Kelsi to consider them as the leads.

With prom around the corner, Taylor eventually agrees to be Chad’s date, and Ryan asks Kelsi. Gabriella has an opportunity to attend Stanford early, and Sharpay manipulates Troy to encourage Gabriella to go. Conflicted about his own college choices and Gabriella’s absence, Troy drives to meet Gabriella for their own prom night. The Wildcats prepare for the musical, where Troy and Gabriella make a surprise appearance, and Ms. Darbus announces that both Kelsi and Ryan have received a scholarship to Juilliard. The Wildcats reveal their college choices, with Troy deciding to stay not far from Gabriella, and the film concludes with a big celebratory graduation.

Spin-off film: Sharpay's Fabulous Adventure (2011)Edit

Sharpay's Fabulous Adventure is a spin-off film starring Ashley Tisdale, and was released as both a direct-to-video film and as a Disney Channel Original Movie. 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, and then broadcast as a Disney Channel Original Movie on May 22, 2011.[9][10] 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.

Reported sequelEdit

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.[11][12] In March 2016, details about the film's prospective principal characters were reported.[13]

Cast membersEdit

  • An S indicates the actor or actress lent only their singing voice for another actor's or actress' character.
  • A C indicates a cameo appearance.
  • A dark gray cell indicates the character did not appear.
Characters Films
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
Drew SeeleyS
Zac Efron
Gabriella Montez Vanessa Hudgens
Sharpay Evans Ashley Tisdale
Ryan Evans Lucas Grabeel Lucas GrabeelC
Chad Danforth Corbin Bleu
Taylor McKessie Monique Coleman
Ms. Darbus Alyson Reed
Martha Cox Kaycee Stroh
Coach Bolton Bart Johnson
Zeke Baylor Chris Warren Jr.
Kelsi Nielsen Olesya Rulin
Jason Cross Ryne Sanborn
Mrs. Bolton Leslie Wing Pomeroy
Principal Dave Matsui Joey Miyashima Joey Miyashima
Mrs. Montez Socorro Herrera Socorro Herrera
Lea Kelli Baker
Mr. Vance Evans Robert Curtis Brown
Mrs. Darby Evans Jessica Tuck
Boi Manly "Little Pickles" Ortega
Mr. Fulton Mark L. Taylor
Miley Stewart Miley CyrusC
Mr. Danforth David Reivers
Mrs. Danforth Yolanda Wood
Tiara Gold Jemma McKenzie-Brown
Donnie Dion Justin Martin
Jimmie Zara Matt Prokop
Peyton Leverett Austin Butler
Amber Lee Adams Cameron Goodman
Roger Ellison Bradley Steven Perry
Shawn MolkoS
Gill Samms Alec Mapa
Neal Roberts Jack Plotnick
Tiffany Destiny Lauren Collins

Television seriesEdit

Madison High TV pilotEdit

On November 12, 2010, Disney announced their intention to film a television spin-off of the film series entitled Madison High and began casting that same year.[14] A pilot episode for the series was officially ordered in early 2011,[15] which would star Luke Benward, G. Hannelius, Leah Lewis, Katherine McNamara, Mark Indelicato, and Nolan Sotillo. Alyson Reed also reprised her role as Ms. Darbus.[16] 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.

High School Musical: The Musical: The SeriesEdit

On November 9, 2017, a new television spin-off of the film series was announced to be in development.[3] On September 6, 2018, Disney announced that it began 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.[17][18]

On October 17, 2018, it was announced that Joshua Bassett would play the lead role of Ricky in the series, now titled High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.[19] 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.[20][21]

International adaptationsEdit

High School Musical: The ChallengeEdit

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 with the same title and subtitle Mexico, 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: College DreamsEdit

High School Musical China: College Dreams (歌舞青春),[22] (also known as High School Musical: China – College Dreams) is a spin-off of the High School Musical series for the Chinese market. Directed by Chen Shi-Zheng, it was released on September 6 2011. The film is a Chinese version of the American series, released in North America on DVD under the Disney World Cinema Brand.[23] Film Business Asia critic Derek Elley rated the adaptation three points out of ten. He criticized the lack of effort or care in making a culturally relevant adaptation of the original, pointing to the film's setting, made to look like "any college in Middle America, but full of Mandarin-speaking students", and the "non-existent" script. One song Elley pulled out as "half-memorable" was 'Rainy Season' (梅雨季), as "the first that seems to be authentically from a Chinese youth musical after an hour of pseudo hip-hop and rap". Ultimately, he called it "an example of Hollywood's continuing inability to learn any lessons in cultural transplantation".[22]



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."[24] The original High School Musical sold 8 million DVD units, earning an operating income of $100 million.[25] East High School was chosen as the Number 1 Top Five Best High Schools from Movies and TV by St. Petersburg Times.[26]

Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic CinemaScore
High School Musical 63% (19 reviews)[27] N/A N/A
High School Musical 2 82% (22 reviews)[28] 72 (23 reviews)[29] N/A
High School Musical 3: Senior Year 64% (128 reviews)[30] 57 (26 reviews)[31] A[32]
Sharpay's Fabulous Adventure N/A N/A N/A


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 the fans.

In other mediaEdit

Stage musicalEdit

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 through 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.[33] The production was directed by PacRep founder Stephen Moorer, who had directed the California premiere of the first High School Musical.[34]


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.[35] 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.[35] "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.

Live showsEdit

In 2006, Disney produced a concert tour titled High School Musical: The Concert. It 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.

In 2007, 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 2009, Feld Entertainment also produced a touring music show featuring songs and dances from all three movies, titled High School Musical Summer Celebration.[37][38]

Video gamesEdit

Disney Interactive Studios has produced seven High School Musical video games, all taking the guise of music video games incorporating songs and plots from the films, High School Musical: Sing It!, High School Musical: Makin' the Cut!, High School Musical: Livin' the Dream, High School Musical 2: Work This Out!, High School Musical 3: Senior Year, High School Musical 3: Senior Year Dance!, and Disney Sing It! – High School Musical 3: Senior Year.


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.[citation needed]

Reality seriesEdit

During July and August 2008, ABC broadcast a reality competition based on the series, titled High School Musical: Get in the Picture, [39] hosted by Nick Lachey. The winner of the show appeared in a music video during the credits of High School Musical 3.[40] The series premiered to poor ratings, with the show coming in fourth place in its timeslot.[41]

See alsoEdit

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


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