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High School Musical was spawned by producer Bill Borden who said “I wanted to make a musical that I could sit down and watch with my kids.” This creative phenomenon now lays claim to cable television’s highest-ever-rated telecast, the two highest-ever-rated Disney Channel movies, two multi-platinum soundtracks, a concert tour, an ice show, numerous awards and accolades, and a source of inspiration to teens worldwide. Now, it is an official theatrical release with High School Music 3: Senior Year.
Each new class year is a new start and Senior Year finds these characters facing typical teen issues about prom, finals, graduation and going away. Gabriella has always been ruled by her head, but now is being torn by her heart. She must make tough decisions regarding friends, family, relationships and school after being accepted to an early study program at Stanford that may require her to miss the school musical and prom. Troy must choose between attending the college basketball program his father always pushed for or playing ball at the school of his choice that also offers a theater major. The film finds balance being both a musical comedy that is grounded in some emotional reality. Troy and Gabriella vow to make every moment last as their lifelong college dreams put the future of their relationship in question.
The school year also introduces us to some new characters. Jimmie is a Sophomore on the basketball team who idolizes Troy, but is also a little too cocky. Tiara transfers to East High from England and agrees to be Sharpay’s personal assistant. She helps sort out her diva demands, but secretly, is just as conniving.
Some characters never change. Sharpay is still the diva that you love to hate. Sharpay’s the one who stirs the pot, but deep down – really, really, really, really, really deep down – she’s probably really sweet. Probably. She has some fun numbers in the musical including the song “I Want It All.” It contains a wink and homage to Gene Kelly, Bob Fosse, Jerome Robbins, and Michael Kidd with large dance numbers that include a classic Radio City Music Hall kick line with 24 pink-haired kitty cat Rockettes. The whole number is seen through the eyes of this teenage girl who wants it all: fame, fortune, and more.
The movie explores friendship and camaraderie, the bond that’s been build between Troy and Chad and how it’s changing. It’s the joy in seeing a friend move on and do what he wants to do, and at the same time the sadness of losing a partner. One of the best dances in the film is a number called “The Boys Are Back.” This sequence is all about giving Troy and Chad a history. The number features the pair rolling a giant tire, sword fighting, break-dancing, teeter-tottering, and dancing on cars in a used car lot that includes flashbacks to their time there dancing on cars as a child.
Throughout the whole franchise a big lesson from the film is to break stereotypes. The power forward wants to be a pastry chef. The star basketball player wants to be a thespian. The message to children is to be whatever you want to be. Writer Peter Barsocchini shared that the character of Troy Bolton was inspired by his childhood friendship with future Pittsburgh Steeler football player Lynn Swan. “One day we were riding on the bus to a game and he said ‘You know, I’d really like to try ballet.’ Sometimes there is so much pressure on kids to be cool that it’s tough to do something different.” HSM3 manages to make East High the most homogenous, multiracial school in America that is promoting individual diversity.
The film features ten all-new songs penned by several of the hit songwriters from past HSM smash records that take maximum advantage of the big screen. HSM3 features bigger musical numbers with more difficult choreography and more dancers, more elaborate sets with more complicated lighting and sound, and more detailed and fabulous costumes. The fans will love it!