'High School Musical' Graduates to Multimedia Hit

John Jeffrey Martin as Troy in  an Atlanta production of 'High School Musical.' i i

hide captionIn High School Musical the character Troy (John Jeffrey Martin) is a basketball jock who discovers his passion for the stage.

Photo: Joan Marcus
John Jeffrey Martin as Troy in  an Atlanta production of 'High School Musical.'

John Jeffrey Martin and ensemble cast in 'Get'cha Head In The Game' from an Atlanta production of High School Musical.

Photo: Joan Marcus
Ensemble cast from 'High School Musical' i i

hide captionFrom an Atlanta production of High School Musical, the ensemble cast sings "Wildcat Cheer."

Photo: Joan Marcus
Ensemble cast from 'High School Musical'

From an Atlanta production of High School Musical, the ensemble cast belts out 'Wildcat Cheer' from the bleachers.

Photo: Joan Marcus

Extra Credits

See a High School Musical clip -- and hear "Cellular Fusion," a new song written for the stage version.

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High School Musical is a sweet, squeaky-clean story about a jock (Troy, the basketball star) and a brainiac (Gabriella, the shy transfer student) who both secretly harbor a desire to audition for their high-school musical. Will they or won't they? And what will their friends think? Mayhem and musical numbers ensue.

From the moment the modest little made-for-cable TV movie first aired, in January 2006, High School Musical has been a juggernaut. The soundtrack was last year's top-selling CD; the DVD has sold more than 7 million copies; an arena concert tour with most of the original cast barnstormed across the country last fall. More than 100 million people worldwide have seen the TV movie.

Now, High School Musical is jumping onto the stages of a high school or middle school or elementary school near you.

Steve Fickinger, vice president of Disney Theatrical Productions, says that shortly after the astonishing success of the cable movie, he and his colleagues fast-tracked a stage version.

"I thought, well, gosh, we have to have this out right away, because if we take our usual 12 to 18 months to write this and prepare the materials and to release it, the fever could be over," Fickinger says.

Fickinger says if a show is licensed by 500 or 600 school and amateur groups a year, it's a big deal. So far, there have been over 1,200 school and amateur productions of High School Musical in this country.

The phenomenon was on full display one recent weekend at Candlewood Middle School in Dix Hills, a Long Island suburb of New York City. Lucille Kenney, who's been directing the school's productions for the past 20 years, says more kids auditioned for High School Musical than any other show she's done.

"We had 235 auditions and we brought it down to 122, thinking that maybe some people might drop out," Kenney says. "But they didn't!"

The High School Musical juggernaut is still going strong. A 60-city professional theatrical tour rolls out in June. High School Musical 2 airs on the Disney Channel in August. And — hold on to your hats — High School Musical: The Ice Tour starts playing in arenas in September.

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