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Posted August 7, 2007

 

"High School Musical: The Concert (Extreme Access Pass)" On DVD

By

Bill Kallay

No one, and I mean no one, on planet Earth could have predicted that "High School Musical" would become the phenomenon that it has become.  If "Grease" was the word in the late-1970s, then "HSM" was the word in 2006...and possibly 2007.

Not only did the original Disney Channel production set record ratings for the channel, but it also spawned a hugely popular soundtrack which is still high on the Billboard charts, shows in some of the Disney theme parks and most recently, a concert tour which has been very successful.  And "High School Musical 2" is set to debut on Disney Channel on August 17, 2007.

Which brings us to "High School Musical: The Concert (Extreme Access Pass)."  Filled with high energy and the songs that fans have embraced, the energetic cast of "HSM" shows why the original movie was such a hit.    

The new DVD includes essentially a compilation of the movie's hit songs performed live in front of a huge audience of tweens, teens and their moms (and dads, I might add).  The DVD begins with "The Start of Something New," a catchy song.  The cast of Vanessa Hudgens, Corbin Bleu, Lucas Grabeel, Drew Seeley, Ashley Tisdale & Monique Coleman bring their enthusiasm to the live stage.  They, like the best pop stars, give the audience want they came for: an exciting show.    

It would be silly of me to try and rehash the "HSM" storyline, or breakdown the song list.  Let me just say that if you're a fan of the movie and music, I wouldn't be adding much of anything new!  If you don't already have a copy of the original movie, the "Remix" edition of the movie and the soundtrack, I'd say get this DVD.  It offers the same charm that the movie does and doesn't disappoint.  If was a kid (or perhaps an adult) who just adored "HSM," seeing most of the stars from the movie perform live would simply be wonderful.

Part of the appeal, beyond the instantly catchy (and good) songs is the cast.  Watching this DVD, I was caught up in their enthusiasm for the material and the connection they feel with their audience.  "HSM" was one of those moments in which everything from the cast, the songs, the choreography (by director Kenny Ortega) and simple boy-meets-girl story, struck gold.  The DVD has short takes on how the cast feels about the surprising success of the original movie and its affect on pop culture.  It seems that everyone is genuinely thankful that fans have embraced "HSM."   

Nearly every young generation has their own pop idols.  My dad used to tell me about "Spin & Marty."  I had no idea who he was talking about, until my local station would rerun episodes on the original "Mickey Mouse Club."  I thought it was kind of corny.  I'm sure that my daughter would say the same thing about my pop idols.  The Fonz.  Han Solo.  I even liked the Bee Gees and thought that "Grease" was hilarious and even a little racy.  Talk about corny.   

Today, with pop idols falling from their pedestal created by fans and the media, seeing "HSM: The Concert" is refreshing.  It's reasonable to compare the cast to that of the original "Mickey Mouse Club."  Fresh faces, lots of singing and dancing add up to an entertaining show.  The cast is appealing because they connect with the audience of young kids and their parents.  Nothing about it is offensive.  Indeed, one could criticize this show for being too sweet and light.  But I don't believe that "HSM: The Concert" is so saccharine that even the most cynical person would be turned off by it.  It hits all the right buttons.        

The concert video is fairly standard, by which it looks like most concert videos with quick cuts and dissolves of the performance.  What almost any concert video can't replicate is the energy that one can feel seeing a show live.  Yet this video, and perhaps because I've enjoyed the movie and the music with my daughter, accomplishes the impossible for a taped show--it's entertaining.

The cast is wonderful, even with the absence of Zac Efron.  Drew Seeley takes his place and fills in perfectly (as apparently he did most of the singing for Efron in the original movie). Vanessa Hudgens and Ashley Tisdale are sweet, and Lucas Grabeel keeps the show moving along.  Corbin Bleu, who is the latest Disney Channel success, entertains with his dancing and singing.

The DVD has a number of extras to keep the most die hard fan happy.  A neat feature is "U Direct," where you can create your own version of the concert.  There is a behind the scenes feature called "High School Musical: On The Road," which shows how crazy the concert tour has been for the cast and crew. 

If you're a fan of the movie, you're going to eat this DVD up.  Perhaps the "HSM" has run its course, and its audience my be getting weary of it.  But with two sequels coming out soon, it doesn't seem like the show is going to end anytime soon.

High School Musical: The Concert (Extreme Access Pass)
Walt Disney Home Entertainment
Catalog Number 54629
Region 1
1.78:1
Dolby Digital 5.1
DVD Release Date: June 26, 2007
$19.99
2007
57 minutes
Color
Director: Kenny Ortega
Cast: Vanessa Hudgens, Corbin Bleu, Lucas Grabeel, Drew Seeley, Ashley Tisdale & Monique Coleman


 

Special thanks to Mac & Dinah McLean

 

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