Get ready for more of the little-movie-musical-that-could, High School Musical 2.


Last year the Disney Channel debuted High School Musical. It turned into a phenomena causing social ripples that made theater geeks cool and gave jocks the okay to enjoy song and dance routines.

Now the sequel High School Musical 2 will premier on August 17, with the whole talented gang back, including Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Lucas Grabeel, Monique Coleman and Corbin Bleu. They all will be showcased in about ten splashy production numbers.

That should thrill every teenybopper, along with a lot of adults– including curmudgeonly journalists– who got caught up in the musical magic that was created by director-choreographer Kenny Ortega.

At the recent television critics press tour, I saw a clip from the show with a dance number featuring two teams playing baseball. With Corbin Bleu and a great ensemble swinging bats and kicking up their heels on the field, it’s about as athletic and as graceful as any routine by the late great Gene Kelly. That’s the trademark of Ortega’s powerful choreography. And the kids pulled it off with the high energy of a music video, without losing the charm of the classic musicals of the past.

The plot for the sequel has the kids on summer vacation. The scheming diva Sharpay (Tisdale) sets her sights on Troy (Efron), and gets him a job at her family’s posh country club. Her goal is to separate him from Gabriella (Hudgens). And she has plans for putting on a big summer musical. But Troy has plans of his own, and soon the whole gang is together at the club, and romance is in the air.

“I’m having a blast right now, this is a dream come true,” says Efron, who is also part of this summer’s hit movie musical Hairspray, and will soon be stepping into Kevin Bacon’s shoes in a remake of Footloose. He adds that in real life “high school was never that good for me,” and he hopes that the HSM film franchise will “take us to our senior year and graduation.”

Grabeel, who play Sharpay’s brother Ryan, would like to see the Wildcats join the space program in the next sequel. “It would be great. High School Musical with Aliens.”


Coleman (who strutted her stuff on Dancing with the Stars) tried to explain the HSM phenomenon, pointing out “it’s really accessible. We live in an age where there’s so much technology, and we have the kids all over the world with MySpace pages and blogs talking about it, which is wonderful. Millions went online and voted for specific things to be in High School Musical 2, and our producers and writers and director listened. It makes them [the kids] feel part of this.”

Gary Marsh, president of Entertainment of the Disney Channel Worldwide, boasts that HSM was one of the biggest successes in all of television last year. Since the premiere, it’s reached over 100 million television viewers worldwide, and it’s sold more than six million DVDs. And it’s expected that HSM2 will top that.

Executive producer Bill Borden down plays the great expectations explaining, “We didn’t try to make a bigger movie. We just tried to make a good movie.” They definitely have done that.

To no one’s surprise, Disney has a script in the works for a High School Musical theatrical movie.

Frank Barron is the former editor of The Hollywood Reporter, having served twice in that capacity. In between, he was West Coast news director for Billboard Publications, supervising their five magazines. Barron also created the western TV series “The Man From Blackhawk” for the ABC network. For more than three decades he and writer-wife Margie Barron have covered Hollywood for Production Update magazine, and they currently contribute to numerous publications. Frank started in showbiz as publicity director for the KHJ radio and television station. Before moving to California, he was a sports editor in New Jersey.