My 5 Biggest Issues With High School Musical

Published on 10/7/2022

Fifteen years ago, children and teens across the globe sat down to watch Gabriella nervously sidle up to the microphone and sing her heart out. Little did we know, this would be the start of one of Disney’s most popular franchises and a key moment in pop culture history.

As we near the anniversary and eye the tentative yet oddly compelling success of the spin-off series, High School Musical: The Musical: The Series (there’s a good tongue twister to test someone’s sobriety), I think it is finally time.

I am ready to share my biggest pet peeves about the original High School Musical films that started it all. I have been silent for too long, and now I’ll inform you of the five greatest issues with High School Musical. But be warned, once you’ve seen these, you’ll never watch the High School Musical films with the same young naivety and innocence.

(Image sourced from gracewells533)

1. Sharpay’s audition was better

Firstly, let’s clarify the fact that Troy and Gabriella never officially auditioned. Miss Darbus refused them only to lurk around outside and then dramatically enter at the exact moment.

But even if we move past that, are we supposed to believe their audition was better? They had never seen this song before, Troy had never even performed except for one karaoke session, and yet they supposedly did better than people who spent the entire winter break rehearsing. Not only would they have sung it poorly, but their stage presence was non-existent. They weren’t performing. Perhaps we can somehow believe their voices are natural talent, but a musical is about far more than singing. They got a callback without ever displaying their ability to act, dance or even face an audience.

And I’ll say it, Sharpay’s jazzy version of the song was better. It was enjoyable and far more suited to the stage. Sharpay and Ryan displayed a natural stage presence and the ability to learn and execute choreography.

2. Kelsey has no musical experience

Following Sharpay’s audition, Kelsey corrects her on the intentions for the song, to which Sharpay responds rudely. And while I disagree with the patronising way she spoke to Kelsey, I have to admit she has a point.

Kelsey had never been involved in a single musical until she suddenly wrote one. Guys, writing a musical is difficult! You need to be experienced in musicals to even know where to start. Writing a musical is different to writing songs, as you need to convey a story using the music as well. This is why jukebox musicals can be such a hit or miss and require a great deal of adapting.

Kelsey has waltzed in, assuming she can write a musical. Additionally, she’s not directing it, so this leaves the interpretation of the songs and musical up to the director, Miss Darbus, who seemed happy with the adaptation.

I think Kelsey should be open to the alternative versions as she is so new to musicals and could learn from seasoned actors.

3. What on earth is this musical about?

This brings me to my next point… what is this musical about? We get to see three of the songs in ‘Twinkle Town’, all of which are duets: What I’ve Been Looking For, Breaking Free and Bop to the Top. While the first two suggest this to be a love story, as many musicals are at their core, the latter has me confused. What is the plot? How do these songs contribute at all to the storytelling of the musical?

Then you factor in the scenery we saw, such as the tree being made during the detention scene and that ENORMOUS moon, and it’s even more confusing. I would love to see a plot summary for this musical. Even better, an entire script to drunkenly recreate with my friends.

4. Sharpay is a #girlboss

Okay, you may be sensing a hint of bias. I won’t deny it. I am a Sharpay stan. I think Sharpay was my first girl crush.

Sharpay is a #girlboss. And while she may be selfish in her intentions, her actions usually benefit the group. For example, she pushes the drama club to be the best that they can be and have great shows. She and Ryan have somehow done 17 shows by junior year. She takes the lead role but works super hard at it and shines. She got Troy a job at the country club as he needed the money, and then she got him a super cool promotion he was outrageously unqualified for.

Yes, she makes mistakes and goes too far. But you have to admit that Sharpay is here to hustle. She was a #girlboss before that phrase even existed. I think that needs to be acknowledged.

I’m okay with the fact that she doesn’t end up with Troy as he is too passive for a power queen like her. My issue lies in the fact that she didn’t get into Julliard. She has worked her whole life for this, and Troy - who did not even apply - got her spot. There is no justice in that. Let Troy and Gabriella be happily coupled off, but let Sharpay have Julliard.

5. Miss Darbus is inconsistent

I’m a fellow theatre lover, as you might guess, so I understand that Miss Darbus is going to be a little eclectic and dramatic. But she was just so inconsistent, and it bordered on unprofessional numerous times.

She says that Troy and Gabriella are too late to audition but then stays to eavesdrop, giving them a callback from that slightly awkward and off-key audition. She then agrees to move the callbacks to interfere with their other commitments, as if assuring they can’t come or as some strange test of their theatre loyalty. Then she gives them the role immediately, not even waiting some time to compare both callbacks as a professional would’ve. Also, she is making these decisions on her own, while most directors would work with a small team at least. She could’ve involved Kelsey, but as well as know, Kelsey would be so biased. Also, is there no choreographer for this show? Is Miss Darbus choreographing?

Then the real faux pas of them all… she applies to Julliard for Troy. This is so illegal. His application would have required a personal essay, did she write it? Why is she interfering with his college plans to the detriment of another student? Is she forging his signature too?

Miss Darbus, you’ve got to stop being so overinvolved with your students’ lives. It’s one thing to advise them but another to illegally apply in their name.

I’ll keep the list to this, as otherwise, I’ll devolve into a full-scaled rant. If I start talking about the fact that Troy became valedictorian or that Ryan’s sexuality was never explored, I’ll be truly insufferable.

All jokes aside, the High School Musical movies hold a special place in many of our hearts. I still remember watching it the day it came out on Disney channel, as well as the time my sister caught me doing the ‘Bet On It’ choreography as it played. These films were a key part of our childhoods and have never lost their impact. All the actors did a great job, and I’m curious to see what comes next!

Did you have any issues with the films that I missed? Let me know in the comments.



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