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How High School Musical Hearkens Back to Earlier Musicals

By Asad , in Entertainment , at August 14, 2022

Originally intended as a made-for-cable-TV movie, the Tim Federle creation “High School Musical” struck a chord with the tween set and spawned two sequels and a television series. The massive hit also went a long way toward launching the career of Clark Gable’s look-alike Zac Efron, who plays the lead role, Troy Bolton.

Youthful Angst Set to Music

The convoluted teen drama starts much the way “Grease” does, with the male and female leads meeting far from home during school break. Upon returning to his hometown for the school year, Bolton finds that the girl he met over the summer, brainiac Gabriella Montez (musician/actress Vanessa Ann Hudgens), moved to his hometown.

Tim Federle accurately remembers the silliness of being a teenager because the script follows the storyline that the mere idea of basketball star jock Bolton dating the class nerd would up-end the entire social order.

To make matters worse for everyone, school snob Sharpay Evans (Ashley Tisdale) and her brother Ryan Evans (Lucas Grabeel) seem to be stuck with the roles in the high school musical that Bolton and Montez landed.

A Fun Exploration of Hormones

The film explores the high school experience and the hormones of youth through song, dance, and dialogue. The music fits the plot and scenes. For example, Troy’s number with the basketball team, “Get’cha Head in the Game.”

The rest of the soundtrack goes the same way. Like most musicals with a love interest involved, the film’s soundtrack features songs by the unique couple, the brother and sister team, the male lead’s friends, and the female lead’s friends. You also get a solo from Montez’s character similar to that of Sandra Dee/Sandy’s “Hopelessly Devoted” from “Grease.” Montez’s song, “When There Was Me and You” laments about love lost.

“High School Musical” updates the teen love musical while poking fun at it. Those under the age of 40 probably won’t get that part. Those old enough to have seen the original “Grease” and “Cruel Intentions” will understand and get more out of the laughs provided by this comedy musical. Those older than 60 will recognize the racial dynamic as straight out of “West Side Story”, but the writer did avoid naming Montez’s character Maria.

Ostensibly, the film targets tweens and younger. Parents could find some fun in the film, too, since it will probably remind them of their favorite musical movie.

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