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Casting Old And New Favorites
Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Lucas Grabeel, Corbin Bleu and Monique Coleman return to the roles they created in the international smash hit "High School Musical” and the record-breaking "High School Musical 2,” that catapulted them to the center of the worldwide "HSM” phenomenon.

"One of the untold stories of the ‘High School Musical' franchise is how talented the cast really is,” says Barsocchini. "Yes, they've all become teen idols. But they're good young actors. Our principal cast has molded those characters into something that kids love. That's the secret.”

Ortega adds, "The chemistry the kids have with each other elevates it and makes it something more than just telling a fun story. They are the most generous lot you could ever hope to work with. They really come to work with the right things on their minds.”

Everyone's favorite high school sweethearts Troy Bolton and Gabriella Montez—played by Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens—still front the troupe.

"I'm very excited for ‘High School Musical 3' to be on the big screen,” says Efron. "This is what we've been waiting for, what we've been working towards, and it feels great because I feel like we earned it. We're just regular kids that made ‘High School Musical' and now it's progressing.”

Efron has grown up with his character. "Troy is a lot of different things,” he says. "He's a very average kid going through high school, dealing with everyday choices. But the fun thing about him is that he's got these hidden talents. So Troy's got a lot to balance: his basketball career, his newfound love of singing, and then of course, Gabriella. What'll happen to them after high school? You don't know. It's like typical high school drama that we get to sing about.”

According to writer Peter Barsocchini, the Troy Bolton character was inspired by the great Pittsburgh Steelers football player Lynn Swan. Barsocchini went to high school with Swan; they played on the same basketball team. "One day we were riding on a bus to a game and he said ‘You know, I'd really like to try ballet,'” says Barsocchini. "There's the character. There's so much pressure on kids to be cool that it's tough to do something different.”

Adds co-producer Don Schain, "One of the big lessons from the first movie is to break stereotypes. The power forward wants to be a pastry chef. The star basketball player wants to be a thespian. The message to children is that you can be whatever you want to be.”

"Troy Bolton has always planned to go to the local university with his best friend Chad,” explains Borden. "Now, because of his relationship with Gabriella and his relationship with the stage, he has some choices to make.”

But Efron's character isn't the only one with choices, says the producer. "Vanessa's character is given a choice to go away to an early acceptance program at Stanford University.” Adds Hudgens, "Gabriella has always been ruled by her head. In this movie, you see her kind of being torn by her heart and her head—making tough decisions, trying to figure out what to do with friends, family, relationships, school.”

Ortega appreciates Hudgens' unique blend of talents. "She continues to amaze me in the way that she grows as an actress. This girl can dance. This girl can sing. This girl can act. She's funny, she's everything. She's a real leading lady.”

"Shooting ‘High School Musical 3' has been the most fun I've had on any of the movies,” says Hudgens. "We're all close now and we got to be with each other every day, working, goofing off and just being kids.”

Hudgens says she was home schooled, experiencing many of the typical high school experiences through "HSM.” "I've never been to a prom, so through this movie I got to experience my prom. I never went to my graduation, but I got to wear a cap and gown

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