Celebrate 10th anniversary of Disney Channel's 'High School Musical' with TV special Jan. 20
Has it really been 10 years since the first “High School Musical” movie debuted on Disney Channel? My family and I remember it like it was yesterday, and I know we are not alone in our fond memories of the trilogy. The official anniversary is tomorrow (Jan. 20), and most of the cast returned to East High over the weekend to tape segments for special telecast of the movie that begins at 8 p.m. Wednesday. Disney Channel also will air “High School Musical 2” on Thursday.
Vanessa Hudgens (Gabriella Montez), Ashley Tisdale (Sharpay Evans), Lucas Grabeel (Ryan Evans), Corbin Bleu (Chad) and Monique Coleman (Taylor McKessie) gathered on Saturday to reflect on their “High School Musical” experiences, The Walt Disney Co. announced online. Although Zac Efron (Troy Bolton) was not present, he will appear in a pre-taped message to fans, the company website reported.
“High School Musical” was a surprise hit in 2006 that garnered 7.7 million total viewers in the United States, which was a record at the time for any Disney Channel show. When the sequel, “High School Musical 2” was released a year and a half later, it captured 17.2 million viewers, setting a new record for the highest number of viewers for Disney Channel and all basic cable shows. And the music was so popular that it became the first TV movie soundtrack to reach No.1 on the Billboard Top 200 chart.
Directed and choreographed by Kenny Ortega, the “High School Musical” trilogy was credited by many as the vehicle that introduced a new generation to musicals. Not only did kids enjoy watching the musical, they wanted to perform it, as well. Disney Theatrical Productions licensed the script for local student theatre productions through Music Theatre International (MTI). In its first 15 months (2006-07), an estimated 2000 middle and high schools produced a licensed amateur stage production of “High School Musical,” according to Disney.
My own children were not quite 2 and 4 years old in early 2006, and although they didn’t necessarily understand the story, they loved the music and choreography. Like so many other viewers, they couldn’t get enough! To their delight, Walt Disney World introduced a production to reprise the catchy tunes. It started with a “High School Musical” float that traveled up Hollywood Boulevard and stopped in front of the Sorcerer’s Hat. Cast members who looked like they stepped off a “High School Musical” set jumped down from the float to sing the popular songs and teach dance steps to kids in the audience.
The first moving stage show was High School Musical Pep Rally (which ran January - September 2007). It was followed by High School Musical 2: School's Out (September 2007 - September 2008), High School Musical 3: Senior Year (October 2008 - September 2010) and, finally, Disney Channel Rocks! (October 2010 - April 2013). You can see videos of each stage show in my previous blog post. Through each production, the anthem "We're All in This Together" remained a constant, and I'm sure, brought back memories for fans.
As such, we’ll be among millions watching the anniversary special, I’m certain. Gary Marsh, president and chief creative officer of Disney Channels Worldwide, summed up the appeal of the "High School Musical" franchise in his statement, “Seeing the cast of ‘High School Musical’ back together again reaffirms what made it special 10 years ago. It’s their optimism, their dedication and their extraordinary talent — as a group —t hat made this such an exceptional movie and cultural phenomenon. Ten years later, the movie continues to delight audiences around the globe, not just for its memorable song and dance numbers, but for its universal themes that continue to resonate with fans everywhere – express yourself, believe in yourself and always follow your dreams.”