A Walt Disney Pictures release of a Borden & Rosenbush Entertainment production. Produced by Bill Borden, Barry Rosenbush. Executive producer, Kenny Ortega; co-producer, Don Schain. Directed by Kenny Ortega. Screenplay, Peter Barsocchini, based on characters created by Barsocchini.
Troy Bolton - Zac Efron
Gabriella Montez - Vanessa Hudgens
Sharpay Evans - Ashley Tisdale
Ryan Evans - Lucas Grabeel
Chad Danforth - Corbin Bleu
Taylor McKessie - Monique Coleman
Kelsi Nielsen - Olesya Rulin
Given the built-in fan base for "High School Musical" -- a phenomenon so popular, it's been performed by hundreds of junior drama departments around the country -- the Disney team didn't have to do much to ensure a massive turnout. And yet Ortega, who tackled "Newsies" for the studio back in the day, seems determined to get it right, making excellent use of the wider canvas to stage his most impressive setpieces yet. Sharpay's "I Want It All," in particular, unfurls as an extravagant homage to Broadway -- a far cry from the first film, in which the tunes were buried as karaoke duets or theater rehearsals for fear that musical-averse auds wouldn't go for break-out-in-song moments. Starting small, Ortega has taught an entirely new generation to love musical theater.
However, while Ortega and fellow choreographers Charles Klapow and Bonnie Story stretch their imaginations, there's something almost lazy about the pic's underachiever script. If the first film was like "West Side Story" (school basketball star falls for brainy transfer student) and the second was like "Breakfast at Tiffany's" (the boy must now decide between the rich girl who offers him everything and the common one who captured his heart), "Senior Year" lacks a fresh central dilemma