Disney's High School Musical
We're all in this together in Disney Channel's smash hit musical featuring the students of East High.
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Show Essentials
+ Ensemble

Full Synopsis

Act One

On the front steps of East High, it's the first day after winter break. Troy, the captain of the basketball team, greets his teammates. Gabriella, the shy, smart, new girl meets the rest of the braniacs, who welcome her to their fold ("Wildcat Cheer"). The Jocks, Brainiacs, Thespians and Skater Dudes find their cliques. Troy and Gabriella each describe their winter adventures to their respective friend groups, not realizing that the other is nearby. They met at a ski lodge and ended up performing a karaoke number together. It was like a romantic dream. Their excitement leads the other kids to start talking about their own New Year's resolutions ("Start of Something New").

In Ms. Darbus' homeroom, Troy spots Gabriella and realizes that she has just transferred to East High. When he calls her to get her attention, the eccentric drama teacher quickly confiscates all cell phones and assigns detention. Gabriella and Troy can't believe that they have ended up in the same school.

Between classes, Gabriella and Troy look at the audition sign-up for the school musical. They are nervous about signing up, but remember the good time they had a karaoke. The drama diva, Sharpay, drops by and discourages Gabriella from auditioning. She is interested in both the lead part... and Troy... for herself. The incident with Sharpay and Gabriella has made Troy late for basketball practice. He is also distracted by thoughts of Gabriella and the musical. The coach, Troy's father, is not pleased; neither are Troy's best friend Chad and the rest of his teammates. They tell Troy that he has to focus on the upcoming championship game ("Get'cha Head in the Game").

In math class, Sharpay tries to dampen Gabriella's interest in Troy. Meanwhile, Gabriella gets a question right that the teacher had wrong. Taylor, the science club president, encourages Gabriella to join the science decathlon team. There is a big meet coming up, and Taylor knows that they can with Gabriella's help. Gabriella is uncertain for the same reason that she was uncertain about auditioning: she wants to get acclimated to her new school before joining activities. Sharpay, however, has other plans – she plants information in Taylor's locker that proves Gabriella is a genius.

In detention, Ms. Darbus gives the students an acting lesson. Coach Bolton interrupts; he is furious with her for keeping his team from practice. They face-off in a classic debate – arts versus sports.

The next day, hopeful Thespians strut their stuff for Ms. Darbus ("Auditions"). The other auditioners are no match for Sharpay and twin brother, Ryan, but despite their obvious talent, this team lacks soul ("What I've Been Looking For"). Troy and Gabriella arrive too late to audition, but Kelsi, the show's composer, plays the song the way she had intended for it to be sung, as opposed to the version Ryan and Sharpay performed. She encourages Troy and Gabriella to sing it the right way, and they do ("What I've Been Looking For – Reprise"). Ms. Darbus overhears and gives them a callback. News of Troy and Gabriella's audition spreads fast ("Cellular Fusion"). Sharpay is furious... and she's not the only one.

In the lunchroom, the Jocks and Braniacs try to explain to Troy and Gabriella, respectively, why they should not venture outside of what they know and what they are good at. They disagree, encouraging other students in other cliques to reveal their secret – and sometimes contradictory – interests. ("Stick to the Status Quo"). Zeke's interest is baking, and he tries to impress Sharpay with a cake... but it ends up falling on her head.

Act Two

Troy and Gabriella escape to the rooftop garden and share a little bit about their real selves; they are quickly falling for each other ("I Can't Take My Eyes Off of You"). Gabriella wishes that high school could be more like kindergarten – that people could be friends based on who they are, not on what they can do. Zeke tries to apologize to Sharpay; he offers to bake her something else, but she'll have none of it. Meanwhile, the Jocks and Brainiacs devise a plan to trick Troy and Gabriella into forgetting about the musical and committing to their respective competitions. Sharpay plans to lie to Ms. Darbus and say that Troy is only auditioning to sabotage the musical. The cheerleaders practice in the gym ("Wildcat Cheer – Reprise").

Gabriella sees Troy practicing basketball drills. Coach Bolton interrupts them and has Gabriella leave. He tells Troy that his team is counting on him and discourages him from distractions like Gabriella and the play. Troy is not pleased with this sentiment.

The lights come up on Troy and Gabriella, each coming in late to practice. Citing examples of famous athletes and braniacs, their respective teammates tell them they need to focus on what's important: basketball and science decathlon, not singing ("Counting on You"). Then, the Jocks and Braniacs enact their plan, which involves a secret phone call that makes it seem as if Troy is dismissing Gabriella and the callback. She dismisses him in return. Both Troy and Gabriella are crushed. Their teammates immediately regret having caused them so much pain ("When There Was Me and You").

Later, Ryan tells Sharpay that she needs to calm down and stop sabotaging Troy and Gabriella; it's not the end of the world if they don't get the leads. Sharpay disagrees. She believes that she is defined by her success as an actress and doesn't know who she is without it. Meanwhile, Gabriella and Troy make up and practice with Kelsi to get ready for the callback ("Something New – Reprise"). However, believing Sharpay's lie that Troy is trying to sabotage the audition, Ms. Darbus decides that he will need to prove he really wants it. She schedules the callback at the same time as the championship game and the decathlon. Chad and Taylor come up with a plan that will allow Troy and Gabriella to do both the competitions and the callback ("We're All in This Together").

While the Jocks and Brainiacs compete, Sharpay and Ryan pull off a polished callback performance ("Bop to the Top"). When Taylor's laptop shuts down the electricity, Troy and Gabriella rush to the theatre... but they arrive too late. Still, when the East High students from all of the different cliques show up to rally behind them, Ms. Darbus is moved and pleased by the attention the theatre department is getting. Ryan tells her that Sharpay lied about Troy trying to sabotage auditions. Kelsi stands up to Sharpay, as well, and demands to play for their audition. They deliver on the callback, and Ms. Darbus gives them the lead roles ("Breaking Free").

Back at the gym, the Wildcats win the game and the Braniacs win the science decathlon. Coach Bolton is impressed by Troy's singing and encourages him to do whatever he wants. He and Ms. Darbus make up; Sharpay and Gabriella also reconcile when Sharpay realizes that Zeke likes her for her, not because she's a star. The whole school comes together as winners, and Troy points out to Gabriella that it is just like kindergarten – everyone is getting along based on who they are, not because of what they do ("We're All in This Together – Reprise").

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Cast Size: Medium (11 to 20 performers)
Cast Type: Ensemble Cast
Dance Requirements: Standard

Character Breakdown

Troy Bolton
The most popular kid at East High, he is the star of the basketball team who yearns to be more than what people want him to be. Troy discovers his love for music but refuses to admit it. Athletic, attractive, and a true leader. He becomes smitten with Gabriella.
Gender: male
Age: 14 to 18
Vocal range top: B5
Vocal range bottom: B3
Chad Danforth
Troy's best friend. A star basketball player, part of the jocks, and second in command. Extremely focused on winning his school's basketball championship, but is slowly understanding that there might be more to this world, including his sparring crush on Taylor.
Gender: male
Age: 14 to 18
Vocal range top: B5
Vocal range bottom: A3
Zeke Baylor
A basketball player on the Wildcats Team. Energetic and charismatic. He has two secrets: a crush on Sharpay and a love for baking, which he is happy and relieved to eventually reveal.
Gender: male
Age: 14 to 18
Vocal range top: G5
Vocal range bottom: B3
Sharpay Evans
The egocentric diva star of the school musicals, she is Ryan's older twin and the alpha dog. She thinks being the musical star defines her and clutches the title like her life depends on it, no matter what the cost to others.
Gender: female
Age: 14 to 18
Vocal range top: F5
Vocal range bottom: A3
Ryan Evans
Sharpay's fraternal twin and a self-delusional 'star in the making.' He typically feels the brunt of Sharpay's attacks and lives under her shadow. Although he possesses a diva exterior, he yearns to change.
Gender: male
Age: 14 to 18
Vocal range top: B5
Vocal range bottom: B3
Gabriella Montez
The new girl in school. She is trying to blend in and avoid 'labels' at her new school. Eventually becomes Troy's romantic counterpart. Pretty, shy, and smart.
Gender: female
Age: 14 to 18
Vocal range top: E5
Vocal range bottom: F3
Taylor Mckessie
The competitive head Brainiac of the school and President of the Science Club. She convinces Gabriella to join the Science Decathlon team. Taylor has a hidden soft spot for Chad, which she hides.
Gender: female
Age: 14 to 18
Vocal range top: C5
Vocal range bottom: G3
Jack Scott
The resident P.A. Announcer for the high school. He is shy and insecure in front of the rest of the kids, but smooth and confident at the mic. Known as the "Velvet Fog of East High."
Gender: male
Age: 14 to 18
Vocal range top: G5
Vocal range bottom: B3
Kelsi Nielsen
The drama club's rehearsal pianist and student composer extraordinaire who is having her musical produced at school. Underneath her shy demeanor, Kelsi is an outspoken firecracker.
Gender: female
Age: 14 to 18
Vocal range top: D5
Vocal range bottom: A3
Ms. Darbus
The kooky, eccentric Drama Club teacher. She has her self-absored moments but is still devoted to her students and constantly encourages them. Passionate about the art of theatre.
Gender: female
Age: 35 to 55
Coach Bolton
The stern basketball coach and Troy's dad. He lost the big game years ago and wants his son to succeed where he failed. Blinded by his ambition for his son, he is still a good guy and proud father.
Gender: male
Age: 40 to 45
Jocks; Thespians; Skaters; Cheerleaders; Party Kids; Adults; Brainiacs; Spectators
Full Song List
Disney's High School Musical: Wildcat Cheer
Disney's High School Musical: Start of Something New
Disney's High School Musical: Get'cha Head in the Game
Disney's High School Musical: Get'cha Head in the Game (Playoff)
Disney's High School Musical: Auditions (Bop to the Top/What I've Been Looking For)
Disney's High School Musical: What I've Been Looking For
Disney's High School Musical: What I've Been Looking for (Reprise)
Disney's High School Musical: Cellular Fusion
Disney's High School Musical: Stick to the Status Quo
Disney's High School Musical: I Can't Take My Eyes Off of You
Disney's High School Musical: Wildcat Cheer (Reprise)
Disney's High School Musical: Counting on You
Disney's High School Musical: When There Was Me and You
Disney's High School Musical: Start of Something New (Reprise)
Disney's High School Musical: We're All in This Together
Disney's High School Musical: Bop to the Top
Disney's High School Musical: Breaking Free
Disney's High School Musical: We're All in This Together (Reprise)

Show History


High School Musical is a stage adaptation of the hit Disney film of the same name by Peter Barroscchini with music by David Nessim Lawrence (among many others). One of the film's producers, Bill Borden, wanted to make a musical about life in high school, setting it in contemporary times, but pulling from classic teenage musicals like West Side Story and Grease. He brought Barroscchini and director, Kenny Ortega, into the picture. The film was shot in just 28 days.

The original film became a massive hit, and the Disney Theatrical Group capitalized on the popularity to adapt it into a stage musical. Bryan Louiselle adapted and arranged the music from various songwriting sources, while David Simpatico adapted the screenplay into a new book. Simpatico used much of Barroscchini's screenplay, but decided to add the character of Jack Scott and portrayed Ms. Darbus as more sympathetic, basing it off of his own high school drama teacher.


High School Musical, based on the Disney film of the same name, had its world premiere production at Stagedoor Manor summer theatre camp in 2006. On January 12, 2007, the Theater of the Stars in Atlanta, Georgia, then became the first professional company to stage the musical. Later that year, Disney Theatrical staged a national tour; it starred John Jeffrey Martin and Arielle Jacobs, running from August 1, 2007, to August 3, 2008.

The musical has enjoyed significant success in regional theaters around the world. North Shore Music Theater staged a notable production in 2007, featuring performances by Andrew Keenan-Bolger and Kate Rockwell. In California, Pacific Repertory Theatre's School of the Dramatic Arts mounted the West Coast premiere, and it was eventually revived in January 2008. On April 17, 2007, Brigend Youth Theatre became the first theatre to do the show in Wales. The musical eventually made its way to other parts of the UK, premiering in London at the Hammersmith Apollo Theatre in January 2008. The first full-scale production in Australia opened in December 2008 in Sydney. It eventually touring eight different cities. In April 2009, the National Theatre of Halifax, Nova Scotia, produced the Canadian premiere, breaking several box office records for the theatre. The musical has also enjoyed premieres in Hong Kong and Nigeria.

Critical Reaction

"It's nothing short of a phenomenon, and watching the highly energetic, all-American spectacle unfolding on the stage, it s not difficult to see why. This is like a cross between Grease and the Kids from Fame for the tweenies market. It is as bloodless, sexless and unthreatening as it is possible to get – yet also sweetly (and only occasionally cloyingly) conveying a moral message that tells its audience not to allow themselves be boxed in by other people s perceptions of them or put limits on what they want to do."
– The Stage

"The stage adaptation does make some minor but significant dramaturgical adjustments. Character motivations are subtly enriched; important contextual signifiers are added."
– The New York Times

"This fun and wholesome show hits all the right notes with its young core audience."
– Talkin' Broadway




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Music Adapted, Arranged and Produced by
Bryan Louiselle
Based on a Disney Channel Original Movie Written by
Peter Barsocchini
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