"High School Musical: The Music in You," Jan. 20, Disney Channel
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NEW YORK (CNS) -- Since its initial broadcast in January 2006, the Disney Channel film "High School Musical" has become one of the most celebrated television offerings of recent years. Both the film and its soundtrack broke records for popularity; the former also garnered two Emmy awards.
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A behind-the-scenes look at the mounting of an amateur stage version of the film by a student theater company is provided by the documentary "High School Musical: The Music in You," which premieres Sunday, Jan. 20, 8-8:30 p.m. EST on cable's Disney Channel. The film, directed by noted documentary-maker Barbara Kopple (perhaps best known for her Academy Award-winning "Harlan County, USA"), follows the production from auditions through rehearsals to the first night, and explores the real-life drama and romance that developed backstage.
The acting company behind the show, called H2O, brings together students from two rival high schools in Fort Worth, Texas, under the collaborative direction of two drama coaches. In a case of life imitating art, the young people find that their participation in the project leads to a breaking down of the social divisions between them, just as their fictitious musical undertaking did for the characters in the film.
Thus veteran student actors and stage technicians are seen working with those who have little or no previous experience. These include one dedicated athlete who, despite his conviction that his heart must be "shaped like a football," takes to his new milieu with ease.
When the audition results are posted, Brad, the young man chosen to play the lead role of Troy, is visibly stunned. His good fortune continues as he strikes up a relationship with Stephanie, a member of the sound crew, and the two begin dating. Soon, however, Brad's initial enthusiasm wanes. His behavior at rehearsals eventually becomes so anemic that it provokes a crisis.
With little more than a week to go before opening night, the directors must decide whether or not to replace Brad with Jeremy, a theater enthusiast originally cast in a smaller role. The fact that these two are friends further complicates the situation.
Enjoyable family fare, "High School Musical: The Music in You" is notable for offering proof of the power of the performing arts in helping develop young people's gifts and shaping their characters. At a time when funding for arts education is in constant jeopardy, the film subtly but forcefully demonstrates that participation in a school-sponsored play can amount to much more than a mere extracurricular activity.
Copyright (c) 2007 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
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