A Look at “High School Musical”
BY KEVIN CARR
Kevin Carr visits with the cast of the Disney Channel phenomenon “High School Musical.” Audio clips include interviews with the cast as well as coverage of the red carpet before the premiere. Learn about upcoming record contracts, who’s dating whom and what’s up with Lucas Grabeel’s hats.
Excepts from the interview follow. To hear the entire interview, click here.
With poor box office from both “RENT” and “The Producers,” it seemed that the brief musical revival started with “Chicago” and “Moulin Rouge” had ended. Who would have thought that a Disney Channel original movie would be the film to break new ground. In January, Disney Channel aired a tiny made-for-TV film called “High School Musical,” and the phenomenon happened.
“High School Musical” has aired on the Mouse House’s kids-centric network a dozen times, pulling in more than 36 million viewers in more than 20 million households. Those are pretty good numbers for a broadcast network, let alone a cable channel.
The soundtrack for the film went double platinum and put the stars in the record books for being the first performers to debut in more than one slot in the top ten. Zac Efron, who plays Troy the basketball star, was in utter disbelief. “When you go on the Billboard chart, and you’re looking at Mariah Carey, Kelly Clarkson and High School Musical. No way!” he said. “They have a typo right here.”
“We had no idea it was gonna blow up,” said Vanessa Anne Hudgens who plays the pretty but shy Gabriella. The film’s success has led her to a possible career in music. “I got offered a lot of record deals – very nice record deals from very prestigious companies,” she said. “I’ve been debating what one to go with for the longest time.” Vanessa claims she has made a decision and will start working soon with writers and producers.
The stars speculate as to what makes the film so appealing. “It’s great that parents and kids can watch the movie together without feeling awkward,” Zac said. Lucas Grabeel, who plays the villain Ryan in the movie, said, “For something to be this well rounded and to come out and actually be something that is entertaining and pop culture and families can get together and watch is a great package.”
With their new success only a few months old, these stars are relatively fresh to the process. Perhaps a few more years of pampered Hollywood fame could ruin them, but for now, they’re just regular kids. Zac would love to eventually do action films and has the “Rocky” theme as the ring tone to his cell phone. Vanessa was shocked to discover there was already a teen novelization available about the film.
Ashley Tisdale, who plays Sharpay in the film and is best known for her role as Maddie in “The Suite Life of Zach and Cody,” is still a little shocked at the whole phenomenon. “It’s so weird when people are like, do you understand that girls are having sleepovers and acting out the parts,” she said. “And I’m like, you’ve gotta be kidding me. It’s so crazy to think of, but I think this is so awesome.”
Of course, with any hot teen film, there will be dating rumors. It didn’t take long for there to be rumors of Zac Efron and Ashley Tisdale getting together. Yet, when asked directly, they both claim they are just friends. “It’s kind of funny how they picked us to be rumored to be going out,” Ashley said. “It’s still a huge thing that they talk about.” Zac agrees: “I just think it’s funny. Me and Ashley are just good friends. We just laugh every time we hear it. She’s very cool. We hang out all the time. We’re definitely not dating.”
These new stars admit to sometimes hopping online to lurk in the boards to see what people are saying. “I get bored and I’ll go online and say, ‘What’s Zac doing today?’” Vanessa said. “I don’t look at IMDb because IMDb is harsh. People are really mean, so I don’t look at that, but I look at fan sites and stuff.”
“I love the discussions online,” said Zac. “They can pick out things in the movie that you’d never dreamed people would find out. I don’t go that often. I try not to because it can either give you a big head or tear you down.”
Zac claims his friends are not at all affected by his success. “I’m lucky enough to have friends that are so far removed from the industry that they do not care,” he said. “I come home, and it’s a reality check.”
“High School Musical” will be available on Disney DVD on Tuesday, May 23.
Photo By Alberto Rodriguez©Berliner Studio/BEImages