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.
The modern Romeo and Juliet tale follows two teenagers from completely different cliques who bond over their love of music. Troy Bolton (Zac Efron) the captain of the East Side High School basketball team and the most popular boy in school, meets shy and smart transfer student Gabriella Montez (Vanessa Hudgens) at a holiday karaoke party. When they return to school, Troy and Gabriella decide to audition for the high school musical — but Drama Club president Sharpay Evans (Ashley Tisdale) and her twin brother, Ryan Evans (Lucas Gabreel), aren’t happy about the competition.
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, realizing, “My head’s in the game / But my heart’s in the song.” Gabriella, meanwhile, joins the scholastic decathlon team and works on overcoming her shyness in order to transform into a leading lady.
The wildly popular 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 Fabulous 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+.
In April 2019, Monique Coleman, who portrayed Gabriella’s friend Taylor McKessie, exclusively told Us Weekly what it was like filming with a young cast.
“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.
One year later, the cast reunited to perform for a good cause amid the global coronavirus pandemic. Hudgens, Coleman and more of the former Wildcats joined forces on ABC’s Disney Family Singalong to give healthcare heroes a special shout-out during the worldwide COVID-19 crisis.
“Everyone we reached out to was quick — and you’ll see it in their spirit and the way they come together from their homes. They recognize this is an opportunity to strengthen spirits for those joining us for the broadcast,” the film’s director Kenny Ortega told Deadline of the April 2020 reunion. “It’s a really nice, fun coming together of a lot of young people that are banding together under the lyrics of this song for the show.”
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Scroll down to see what the East Side High Schoolers look like now!