One of Disney's most successful endeavors of the 2000s, the High School Musical franchise wasn't just one of the most-watched projects on the Disney Channel; it also launched nearly as many teen pop stars as The Mickey Mouse Club did in the '90s, when Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, and Justin Timberlake were among the cast members.
The High School Musical films starred Zac Efron as Troy Bolton, the captain of the basketball team who discovers a passion for singing; Vanessa Hudgens as Gabrielle Montez, the new girl in town; Ashley Tisdale and Lucas Grabeel as siblings Sharpay and Ryan Evans, the high school's resident musical theater stars; Corbin Bleu as Chad; and Monique Coleman as Taylor. The first High School Musical began airing on the Disney Channel in early 2006 and soon became a smash hit, scoring high ratings on TV and serious record and singles sales on the charts. Disney spun off this success by having some of the newly minted stars release their own albums, including Vanessa Hudgens' V and Ashley Tisdale's Headstrong. The phenomenon also spawned High School Musical: The Concert. High School Musical 2 arrived in summer 2007, and the movie and its soundtrack became some of the year's most popular pop culture artifacts. A third High School Musical movie and soundtrack were released in 2008 and were followed in 2009 by the compilation High School Musical: The Collection.~ Heather Phares