High School Musical 2 is the sequel to the Disney Channel Original Movie, High School Musical. It debuted on August 17, 2007 on Disney Channel in the U.S., and on Family in Canada. The premiere brought in a total of 17.3 million viewers in the United States—almost 10 million more than its predecessor—making it the highest-rated Disney Channel Movie to date.
Sharpay and Ryan Evans (Ashley Tisdale and Lucas Grabeel) plan to spend the summer at their family's country club, Lava Springs ("Fabulous"). However, Sharpay's summer plans also include breaking up Troy and Gabriella by getting Troy hired at Lava Springs, and making her move on him. But what Sharpay does not count on is Troy talking the club's manager, Mr. Fulton (Mark L. Taylor), into hiring Gabriella and their close group of friends; this includes Gabriella's best friend, Taylor (Monique Coleman), and Troy's best friend, (Corbin Bleu). Mr. Fulton is unable to fire the "extras" at Sharpay's command, since her mother (Jessica Tuck) approved of their hiring, so she orders him to make them want to quit. Fulton exerts his powers of intimidation upon explaining their place at the club. Seeing how his friends are intimidated and lacking confidence, Troy offers to help his friends working in the kitchen, and convinces them that they can work their hardships out ("Work This Out").
While Troy continues to worry about obtaining a college scholarship, Gabriella is simply thrilled to be in one place over the summer; the first time in her life when she doesn't move to a new city. Sharpay schemes harder than ever to make the Wildcats miserable, and win Troy, who has to choose between two worlds: his own with the Wildcats and Gabriella; or another, in which Sharpay's family can offer him an easy way to college and other luxuries he has only dreamed about.
Meanwhile Kelsi, inspired by their relationship, writes a ballad for Troy and Gabriella, and Troy agrees to sing with his friends in the upcoming talent show ("You Are the Music in Me"). Sharpay conspires to get Troy to perform with her in the show, holding his future over his head. In the DVD version, she and Ryan trap him as he prepares for a date with Gabriella, and show him the song she wants to make him do with her ("Humuhumunukunukuapua'a"). Later, she takes Kelsi's song away, speeds up the tempo, and forces Troy to sing it with her.
A visit from a local college basketball team, The Red Heads, causes a rift between Troy and Chad when Troy chooses to spend time with the Red Hawks, instead of his friends, alienating especially Chad. As Troy grows further away from what was formerly his, Ryan realizes he doesn't mean much to Sharpay anymore. Taylor and Gabriella even invite Ryan to the baseball game, and Chad offers him Troy's place in the game ("I Don't Dance"). Troy and Gabriella's relationship is silently strained to the breaking point when Troy sees Ryan with Gabriella, sparking a little jealousy. Troy's relationship with Chad is tentative, as the latter feels Troy is abandoning him and the rest of their friends. Despite that, Troy (forced by Sharpay) and Sharpay (singing all but one line) then practice their song for the Midsummer Night's Talent Show ("You Are the Music in Me (Sharpay Version)").
When Sharpay discovers that Ryan and the Wildcats are putting together their own performance in the show, she finally crosses the line by getting Mr. Fulton to ban all junior staff members from performing in Lava Springs' annual Midsummer Night's Talent Show, even though Ryan has been working with the group to put together a performance. Gabriella, frustrated, kneels over and confronts Sharpay. She makes it clear that she refuses to play Sharpay's "game", and that she has quit her job at Lava Springs. Troy overhears the exchange, and tries to persuade Gabriella to change her mind. Gabriella expresses her loss of trust with Troy, and how she just can't stay while she has a broken heart ("Gotta Go My Own Way"). The song ends with her leaving Troy's necklace in his hand, and running to her mom's car, and Troy walking back toward the country club alone. Shortly after, he has a discussion about this with his father, who remains supportive of his son.
Troy returns to work the next day to find that all his friends refuse to talk to him, but Kelsi silently shows Troy the notice from Mr. Fulton. Troy becomes fed up with the downhill events that are occurring for his friends ("Bet on It"), and goes to tentatively reconcile with Chad. Troy confronts Sharpay, and tells her that he won't sing with her because of how she treated his friends, causing Sharpay to burst into tears. The Wildcats and Chad forgive Troy for his absence and later convince him to sing in the talent show, which he does only under the condition that they are allowed to perform as well. Ryan gives Troy a new song to learn moments before the show, saying that Sharpay wants him do to this song instead. As Troy goes onstage, he asks Sharpay why she switched the song, and Sharpay is shocked to find that her brother tricked her. Troy sings the song "Everyday" alone—until Gabriella is revealed from behind the Wildcats. In the end, Sharpay herself proudly presents her brother, Ryan, with the award for the talent show. After the talent show, the Wildcats (including Ryan and Sharpay) all head out to the golf course to enjoy the fireworks. Troy and Gabriella finally share their first kiss ("You Are the Music in Me").
Disney Channel aired a weekly program called Road to High School Musical 2, beginning on June 8, 2007, and leading up to the premiere of High School Musical 2 in August. The show offered viewers a behind-the-scenes look into the production of the movie. The world premiere of the opening number "What Time Is It" was on Radio Disney May 25, 2007, while "You Are The Music In Me" premiered on July 13, 2007.
|Song||Chiefly Sung By||Other Singers||Scene|
|What Time Is It?||Troy, Gabriella, Sharpay, Ryan, Chad and Taylor||Kelsi, Martha, Zeke, Jason & Wildcats||East High School's Classrooms, Hallways, Cafeteria|
|Fabulous||Sharpay||Sharpettes, Ryan||Lava Springs Pool|
|Work This Out||Troy, Gabriella, Chad, Taylor, Zeke, Martha, Jason, and Kelsi||Wildcats||Lava Springs Kitchen|
|You Are the Music in Me||Troy, Gabriella||Kelsi, Jason, Zeke, Martha, Chad & Taylor||Lava Springs Dining Room|
|Humuhumunukunukuapua'a||Sharpay, Ryan||Sharpettes||Lava Springs Theater|
|I Don't Dance||Ryan and Chad||Baseball Players, Wildcats||Lava Springs Baseball Field|
|You Are the Music in Me (Sharpay Version)||Sharpay, Troy||Sharpettes||Lava Springs Stage|
|Gotta Go My Own Way||Gabriella||Troy||Lava Springs|
|Bet on It||Troy||None||Lava Springs Golf Course|
|Everyday||Troy, Gabriella||Company||Lava Springs Stage|
|All for One||Troy, Gabriella, Sharpay, Ryan, Chad and Taylor||Zeke, Martha, Jason, Kelsi & Wildcats||Lava Springs Pool|
The first broadcast of the film on August 17, 2007 broke records, receiving 17.2 million viewers. This number made it, at the time, the most-watched basic-cable telecast in history (the previous record was held by an edition of ESPN's Monday Night Football between the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys on October 23, 2006, which attracted 16 million viewers), the most-watched made-for-cable movie ever (the previous record was held by TNT's January 21, 2001 airing of Crossfire Trail, which brought in 12.5 million viewers), and the largest audience of any program on broadcast or cable in the 2007 summer television season, along with Friday nights for the past five years. Ratings for the second showing of the movie fell to 8.4 million, and the third showing fell to 7.4 million, totaling the premiere weekend to 33.04 million viewers.
In Latin America, the premiere of High School Musical 2 was be seen by 3.3 million viewers in the north region. The film was the most-watched in its schedule, among all cable channels, and produced the highest rating of the channel, surpassing all originals films of Disney Channel. Among other records, the premiere in Argentina surpassed the debut of High School Musical the last year, in a 107 percent, while in Brazil the sequel reached 208 percent, and Mexico did so with 61 percent. In the United Kingdom, the movie became Disney Channel UK's most viewed program ever, totalling 1.2 million viewers in its first showing.
The film was generally well-received by critics, gaining a score of 77/100 at Metacritic. USA Today's Robert Bianco awarded the film three stars out of four, saying High School Musical 2 was "sweet, smart, bursting with talent and energy, and awash in innocence". While critics enjoyed the film, they noted that the timing of the movie's premiere seemed odd, premiering just when school was about to start up again, while the movie's plot involved the gang going on summer Vacation. High School Musical 2 won the "So Hot Right Now" award at the Nickelodeon Australian Kids' Choice Awards 2007 in which High School Musical castmate, Zac Efron hosted with The Veronicas.
High School Musical 2, is also being spun off into a stage musical. Like the original High School Musical, the show has been adapted into two different theatrical productions: A one-act, 70-minute version and a two-act full length production. Musical Theatre International had originally recruited 7 schools to serve as tests for the new full-length adaptation, but due to complications with multiple drafts of both the script and the score, all but one school were forced to drop out of the pilot program. The Woodlands High school was the first School to produce High School Musical 2 on May 18, 2008. This stage production includes the song "Hummuhummunukunukuapua'a" that was left out of the original movie but included in the DVD as a bonus feature. Through Music Theater International, Disney Theatrical began licensing the theatrical rights in October, 2008.