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A look at locally-filmed 'High School Musical' 10 years later

Megan Marsden Christensen

A look at locally-filmed 'High School Musical' 10 years later

By Megan Marsden Christensen | Posted - Jan. 14, 2016 at 2:59 p.m.


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SALT LAKE CITY — It's been 10 years since "High School Musical" stars Troy Bolton and Gabriella Montez fell in love at Utah's East High School, yet fans still visit the public school on nearly a daily basis.

The Disney film premiered Jan. 20, 2006, and the iconic cafeteria, gym and auditorium are much the same. Even Sharpay Evans' locker has remained pink and is assigned at random to students each year.

The rooftop unfortunately does not feature a romantic garden available for students to share romantic dances as Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens did, but East High assistant principal Whitney Watchman said students are occasionally permitted up there as a reward.

Visitors are welcome to go see the high school, though not often during school hours. Though the school doesn't set up tours, administrators occasionally give them, and maps are available for visitors to navigate through some notable filming locations.

"I think it's brought positive attention to our school. It's made it so people from all around the world have come through our doors," Watchman said. "...We love that people love our school, because we love it, and so to have outside people wanting to see things and getting excited about the pink locker or the gym or the commons and performing, it just brings a positive spirit to our school, and I think it helps people get excited about education, too."

The auditorium at East High School. (Photo: Megan Marsden Christensen)
The auditorium at East High School. (Photo: Megan Marsden Christensen)

Students today don't talk about "High School Musical" in the way one would expect, Watchman said, though they do like that other kids think their school is amazing.

Paul Sagers, currently the principal at West High School, was principal at East High during the filming of the second and third "High School Musical" films.

During his first week on campus, thousands of people came to see the school, and he himself hadn't even seen the movie.

Sagers saw the movie not long after and worked with film officials to make sure their schedule worked well with the students and teachers. He also worked to keep the production at East High School for the sequels.

The former East High principal said it was fun working with Disney and having them film at the school. He said it was fun to watch director Kenny Ortega do his job. Many East High School students were extras in the film, particularly in the scenes in the gymnasium.

Sagers said the school saw a few perks, including new curtains in the auditorium and stipends given to the basketball team and other programs in the school. He thinks if "High School Musical" changed East High School, it was in a positive way.

Efron, Hudgens and Ashley Tisdale, the three main stars in the film, are still seeing success in their careers from the looks of it. Efron has since starred in "17 Again" and was recently seen in "We Are Your Friends," according to Internet Movie Database.

Hudgens will star in a live production of "Grease" on Fox Jan. 31 alongside Julianne Hough and Aaron Tveit, and Tisdale starred in "Phineas and Ferb."

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Megan Marsden Christensen

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