High School Musical is an Emmy Award-winning American television film, and the first in the High School Musical film franchise. Upon its release on January 20, 2006, it became the most successful movie that Disney Channel Original Movie (DCOM) ever produced, with a television sequel High School Musical 2 released in 2007 and the feature film High School Musical 3: Senior Year released to theaters in October 2008. It is the first Disney Channel Original Movie to have a theatrical sequel. A fourth installment, High School Musical 4, has been announced to be in the writing stages. The film's soundtrack was the best-selling album in the United States for 2006.
High School Musical was Disney Channel's most watched movie that year with 7.7 million viewers in its premiere broadcast in the US. In the UK, it received 789,000 viewers for its premiere (and 1.2 million viewers overall during the first week), making it the second most watched program for the Disney Channel (UK) of 2006. On December 29, 2006, it became the first Disney Channel Original Movie to be broadcast on the BBC.
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 cliques – Troy Bolton, captain of the basketball team, and Gabriella Montez, a beautiful and shy transfer student who excels in math and science. Together, they try out for the lead parts in their high school musical, and as a result, divide the school. Despite other students' attempts to thwart their dreams, Troy and Gabriella resist peer pressure and rivalry, inspiring others along the way not to "stick to the status quo".
High School Musical was filmed at East High School located in Salt Lake City, Utah, the auditorium of Murray High School, and Downtown Salt Lake City. Murray High School was also the set of several other Disney productions: Take Down (1978), Read It and Weep (2006), Minutemen (2008) and High School Musical: Get in the Picture (2008).
East High School's basketball star Troy Bolton and math-whiz Gabriella Montez meet at a New Year's Eve party at a ski lodge over Christmas Break. Here, they take part in a karaoke contest and sing ("Start Of Something New"). They discover they have a great chemistry between them and end up exchanging numbers.
A week later, Gabriella's mother is transferred and Gabriella begins classes at East High in Albuquerque, New Mexico where Troy sees her in homeroom. After making sure that it is she on his cell phone, Troy accidentally gets detention, along with Gabriella, his best friend and teammate Chad Danforth (Corbin Bleu), scholastic decathlon captain and head of the science club Taylor McKessie (Monique Coleman), and Drama Club co-presidents Ryan (Lucas Grabeel) and Sharpay Evans (Ashley Tisdale).
After homeroom, Troy and Gabriella see each other again and as they start talking near the sign-up sheet for the winter musical auditions, Sharpay sees them and assumes that Gabriella is interested in signing up. With Ryan's help, Sharpay determines that Gabriella is an "Einsteinette", and puts an article of her previous academic achievements into Taylor's locker.
During detention, Taylor approaches Gabriella and invites her to join the school's scholastic decathlon team. Due to their detention, both Troy and Chad miss their basketball practice, much to the annoyance of Coach Bolton. During a confrontation between the coach (Bart Johnson) and Ms. Darbus (Alyson Reed), it is made clear that neither of them has any real respect for the work that the other does. Troy eventually takes part in basketball practice, but he cannot seem to stop thinking about Gabriella and how he might actually enjoy singing ("Get'cha Head In The Game").
Troy skips basketball practice during free period to go for the auditions, which Gabriella also attends. However, both are too shy to come forward, so they hide behind a janitorial rolling cart as Sharpay and Ryan perform their version of the audition song ("What I've Been Looking For"). When Gabriella finally decides to audition, Troy offers to sing with her, but Ms. Darbus says that it is too late.
After a confrontation with Sharpay, Kelsi Nielsen (Olesya Rulin), the composer of the musical, trips and drops her notes and piano music. Troy and Gabriella rush to help her, and she offers to let them hear how the song was originally supposed to sound. Troy and Gabriella then sing the slower version of the song ("What I've Been Looking For (Reprise)"). Ms. Darbus hears them from behind the auditorium entrance and gives both Troy and Gabriella a callback. The next day, Sharpay sees the callback sheet and is furious. Once Chad and all the basketball players find out that Troy skipped basketball practice to audition for the musical, they are all shocked.
At lunch, everyone learns that Troy is doing something way out of a basketball player's nature, and the students start confessing their secret passions and talents ("Stick To The Status Quo"), including basketball player Zeke Baylor's (Chris Warren, Jr.) love for baking. At that moment, Gabriella slips and accidentally spills her lunch all over Sharpay's shirt. Sharpay tells Ms. Darbus that Gabriella did it on purpose and tries to convince her that Troy and Gabriella are trying to destroy the musical, but Ms. Darbus will not hear a word of it. Troy asks Gabriella to meet him at his secret hideout, the balcony of a greenhouse. There, she reveals that singing with him at the party was like meeting a new friend at kindergarten; she felt that he was like a best friend, although she hardly knew him. Meanwhile, Zeke attempts to talk to Sharpay, who says that she would rather stick pins in her eyes than watch Zeke play basketball.
Chad and Taylor decide that they need to devise a plan so that everything returns to normal. The basketball team tricks Troy into saying that Gabriella is not too important while she watches them through a wi-fi link. Gabriella is hurt and confused about where she and Troy now stand ("When There Was Me And You"). Troy tries to talk to Gabriella, but she tells him that she is not interested in taking part in the musical.
After feeling guilty about ruining Troy and Gabriella's relationship, and noticing that they are no longer interested in the basketball game or the decathlon, Chad and Taylor decide to tell them the truth. Chad, Zeke, and Jason explain everything to Troy in the greenhouse and offer to support him at the callbacks. Taylor and the scholastic decathlon team tell Gabriella what they did, but she is still angry and hurt because of what Troy said, convinced that he meant it.
That night, Troy goes to her house, but she pretends to be busy with homework. He then calls on her cell phone from her backyard, telling her that the guy she met on vacation is much more like him than the guy that "said those stupid things". He climbs onto her balcony and starts singing the harmony of "Start of Something New" in an attempt to persuade her to attend the callbacks with him. Gabriella then forgives him, and together with Kelsi, they start practicing for the callback at school.
Soon, Sharpay and Ryan overhear Gabriella and Troy practicing, and feel intimidated by the competition. Sharpay succeeds in convincing Ms. Darbus to change the callbacks to the same time as the basketball championship and scholastic decathlon. Kelsi overhears their conversation with Ms. Darbus, and when she tells everyone about this, they are devastated. However, the chemistry team, the basketball team and Kelsi work together to come up with a plan. On the day itself, Taylor and Gabriella send a code by computer into the system to disrupt the basketball game by shutting down the scoreboard, and boiling a noxious chemical to stall the decathlon.
As Troy and Gabriella then rush to the theater, Sharpay and Ryan finish performing their song ("Bop To The Top"), confident that they will get the part. Troy and Gabriella show up after Ms. Darbus has called their names twice, and she tells them again that they are too late. Many other students start streaming into the auditorium to support them and Ms. Darbus has no choice but to allow them to perform their song. Gabriella freezes when she sees everyone staring at her, but Troy tells her to look only at him, and she finds the courage to sing ("Breaking Free").
In the end, Ms. Darbus decides to award the lead roles to Troy and Gabriella, making Sharpay and Ryan understudies (and at the basketball game, Sharpay accepts her defeat and tells Gabriella to "break a leg"). After winning both the scholastic decathlon and the basketball game with Troy's last minute shot, Chad gives Troy the winning ball and later asks Taylor out to the victory party. The film ends with the entire school gathering in the gym to celebrate ("We're All In This Together").
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