Go wildcats! High School Musical took over 7.7 million TV screens in the United States when it premiered in 2006, making it the highest-rated Disney Channel Original Movie at the time. People were swept up in the modern Romeo and Juliet tale, which followed two teenagers from completely different cliques who bond over their love of music.
Troy Bolton (Zac Efron) is the captain of the East Side High School basketball team and the most popular boy in school. While attending a holiday karaoke party, he meets Gabriella Montez (Vanessa Hudgens), a shy and smart transfer student. The pair sing a duet, “Start of Something New,” and feel an instant connection. When they return back to school, Troy and Gabriella decide to audition for the high school musical. However, Drama Club president Sharpay Evans (Ashley Tisdale) and her twin brother, Ryan Evans (Lucas Gabreel), are not pleased to have competition for the roles.
As Troy and Gabriella try to avoid Sharpay and Ryan’s wrath, they struggle with their own personal issues. Troy’s interest in the musical baffles the Wildcat basketball team, including his best friend, Chad Danforth (Corbin Bleu). Troy tries to decide if basketball or the musical is the right path for him. He famously sings the line, “My head’s in the game/But my heart’s in the song” in the track “Get Cha Head in the Game.” Gabriella, meanwhile, joins the scholastic decathlon team and works on overcoming her shyness so she can transform into a leading lady.
The film spawned multiple sequels including High School Musical 2 (2007), High School Musical 3: Senior Year (2008), which was released in theaters, and Sharpay’s Faboulous Adventure (2011). High School Musical: The Musical — The Series, a television series based on the original film franchise, was released in November 2019 on Disney’s streaming platform, Disney+.
“We just actually are really close friends and I cared. You know what I mean? … I feel like so many people get into a position and then tear each other down. And it was really important for us to, like, stay very, like, tight-knit and to protect each other. Because, at the end of the day, these were adolescents,” she told Us. “These were young people who were young teenagers that were growing up in front of everyone. And thank God we didn’t have social media, but imagine? The world would be … it would be so different.”
Scroll down to see what the East Side High Schoolers look like now!