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Secrets of High School Musical 3

You’re invited behind-the-scenes of one of the biggest movies of the year!

By Marie Morreale and Gerri Miller | null null , null
Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens on the set of <i>High School Musical 3: Senior Year</i>. (Photo: ©Fred Hayes/Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.)
Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens on the set of High School Musical 3: Senior Year. (Photo: ©Fred Hayes/Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.)

They're back! That's right, the Wildcats from East High are graduating—not only from high school but also from TV to the big screen! High School Musical 3: Senior Year hits your local theaters on October 24, and the ticket lines will probably be a mile long! Count on some HSM karaoke to start during the wait too!

During the promo week before HSM3 opened, Scholastic News Online had the chance to interview the returning mega-stars and some brand new superstars-in-waiting. Read on and see what old friends Zac, Vanessa, Ashley, Corbin, Monique, Ryne, and KayCee, and newbees Matt Prokop, Jemma Mackenzie-Brown, and Justin Martin, had to say.

Scholastic News Online: When you were seniors, did you feel the same indecision your characters do about the future?
Zac Efron: I had no idea I wanted to be an actor. I went through high school just like other guys. I didn't have any plans for my future. But this was kinda my extracurricular, my hobby. I don't know . . . various doors opened and I went through them. And I ended up here today.
Corbin Bleu: It always changes. You know when you're a kid, you have grand ideas to become a lot of different things. I wanted to be a marine biologist. I wanted to be a surgeon. Eventually, it came down to two directions: It was pediatrician, or an actor. I grew up [laughs] . . . . I figured now I can at least play a doctor on TV. I grew up in it, and I always knew that I wanted the arts in my life. It was just whether it would be a full-on career or not. And the time came I had to make the decision, and I actually decided just to go with what I love doing.
KayCee Stroh: I can definitely relate to what my character and all of our characters were going through. I remember when I was graduating, I had no clue what I was going through. I had no clue if I was gonna ship off to college or if I was gonna start working as a dance teacher. And obviously, that's the path I chose for that time in my life and I'm grateful that I did. But I remember being—it was very bittersweet. Like I'm excited to see how my friends go fly on their own and do what they want to do, but I'm selfishly not wanting to give up these friendships. So I think a lot of kids will relate to that.

a scene from high school musical 3
Chris Warren, Jr., Alyson Reed, Corbin Bleu, Ryne Sanborn, Olesya Rulin, Lucas Grabeel and Ashley Tisdale in a scene from High School Musical 3 (Photo: ©John Bramley/Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved)

SNO: What would you say to the teens who are going through what your characters are going through?
Monique Coleman: There's so much pressure. It's like, you know what—be crazy, try something different. Yeah, you might fail—you might be horrible at playing the violin, but at least you tried it, and there's beauty in that. There's a lot of beauty in that. Like, hey, I tried it, and I was really bad, but I did it for three years. And you can say you did something. That's how you develop; that's how you grow into the person you are, by making mistakes, by going out there, by experimenting as much as you can. And that's life, and there's no way you should stop yourself from experiencing it.

SNO: Making life decisions—what gives you the courage to take big steps?
Olesya Rulin: For me, what gives me the courage to take big steps is that there are these possibilities. I grew up in Russia and came to America when I was 7. I was born in this little tiny village with 12 houses and no indoor plumbing. My parents, through a lot of work and a lot of luck, came to America, and we were given this world where anything is possible. Every day I wake up and I feel like that, I came from a little house with no indoor plumbing and my father hunted for our food. And here I am working for Disney Channel. I represent Mickey Mouse, and that's awesome. It just shows me that anything is possible; if you have that courage and inspiration in yourself you can accomplish anything.

SNO: What's the biggest thing you'll take away from this experience?
Zac: I don't know if you can put it into one specific memory. This has been a very safe, fun, and creative place to work for the past three years. It's going to be pretty hard to leave that behind.
Vanessa Hudgens: It's so hard. We've done so much together and been though so much that picking one memory is almost impossible. One really great thing for me was "We're All in This Together" 'cause it was kind of like where our magic really came into the picture and we became this family. It was just a moment that was really special, really magical. I remember Monique was crying and it was a great moment.
Corbin: We've traveled the world. We've experienced all different types of cultures. We've met millions of people. It's impossible to lump it all into one specific moment. One thing I have said before, was I don't know if I can choose a moment from this, but I think at the end of my life, I'll be able to say that one of the best times of my life was when I was involved in High School Musical.
Ryne Sanborn: I loved being so close to everybody. It's just like a big party all the time, everyone having a good time doing everything—just hanging out, watching movies, just being around each other was my favorite part.
Matt Prokop: I have to say the friendships will be the one thing I took from it. We had 16 cast members and 30 dancers and all around the same ages so you go to work with your friends, come home with your friends—we really did become a family out there.

SNO: Tell us about the last day on set.
Ashley Tisdale: Totally emotional. Momo—Monique—cries first.
Monique: I do normally, but this time I did not.
Ashley: This time I did! It was so emotional!
Monique: I was a dirty mess! I ruined my costume, I had to go back to my trailer.
Ashley: [Director] Kenny [Ortega gave] this amazing speech and that's what got us all going. On the last day of filming, every single person was in tears—even the hair and make-up crew. They couldn't touch up our make-up because they were crying so much! Lucas Grabeel, who is such an amazing person, and usually [a little] standoffish—he doesn't show his feelings—he even teared up and that's something that's really big. He doesn't do that.

zac efron and corbin bleu in high school musical 3
Zac Efron and Corbin Bleu in High School Musical 3 (Photo: ©Fred Hayes/Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved)

SNO: What went through your mind when you shot the final scene?
Corbin: The final scene in the movie was actually the final scene we shot, which is very rare. You constantly shoot out of order. For us to actually have the final scene in the film being the curtain closing on these characters, on their lives at high school [was amazing]. We were all up on stage and reminiscing over these past three years. This was the same stage where we shot "Breaking Free," this was the same stage where we experienced so many creative breakthroughs with each other and friendships. It was a very emotional time.

SNO: For new cast members, what was it like coming into this?
Matt: It was definitely scary going into High School Musical 3 where they'd gotten it to the big screen. And the fear for us going into it, we didn't want to try too hard to impress them or steal from their movie. It was a lot of going in and learning the roles from the guys who made it what it is now.
Jemma McKenzie-Brown: It was an amazing opportunity for all of us very early in our careers and coming into such a well-established cast. They welcomed us with open arms. I was kind of scared about fitting in, kind of like being the new girl in school, and such a famous school, but I had a great time. I'd do it all again.
Justin Martin: I don't think any of us knew what to expect coming into the situation, but like Jemma said, they welcomed us into the High School Musical family with open arms.

SNO: Do you have any souvenirs from the set?
Zac: Well, I actually asked to keep one of Troy's suits from the movie. And everyone said, "No, no, we're really sorry, we might have reshoots, so we have to keep it." We walked into the El Capitan Theater, and my suit was on a mannequin, like, 'Please come touch the suit.' I was like, reshoots?! It's still sitting in there, I'm sure.

SNO: Ashley, the movie sets it up that you might be coming back for HSM4.
Ashley: I don't know anything about that. It is flattering to have an open door for my character. But I am doing other projects as well and moving on. But this project is always something that I will hold close to my heart. We have so much fun. We've created such an amazing family. I had the best time on and off screen with this cast.

SNO: HSM has been such a phenomenon. How do you plan to transition into more-adult roles?
Corbin: Well, it's all about range. We as artists, we're never satisfied. So you gotta always continue to stretch yourself. I'm just focusing on getting some more-in-depth roles—it would be nice to really challenge myself, stretch a little bit more. Also just expanding into other art forms as well. I'm working on music. I've been in the studio, working on the second album. I also went into producing. I produced a film with my father called Free Style. It's about motocross, and it will be out in January in theaters.
Zac: Earlier this year, before High School Musical 3, I filmed 17 Again, playing a 37-year-old guy in a 17-year-old's body. So that was interesting. And then right after that I did Being Orson Welles, more of a drama, set in 1937. It's about the Mercury Theatre troupe putting on their production of Julius Caesar. So two different roles.

Kid Reporter Allie Sakowicz was at the premiere of High School Musical 3: Senior Year. Be sure to read her red-carpet report!


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About the Author

Gerri Miller is a contributing writer for Scholastic News Online.

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