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High School Musical
The Concert

review by Zach B.

 

 

Running Time: 57 Minutes

Starring: Corbin Bleu, Monique Coleman, Lucas Grabeel, Vanessa Hudgens, Drew Seeley, Ashley Tisdale

Directed by: Jim Yukich

 

Studio: Disney

Retail Price: $29.99

Features: Jordan Pruitt Performance, High School Musical: On The Road, U Direct

Specs: 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Song Selection (14 Songs)

Released: June 29th, 2007

 

Surely if you know a tweenager or two, or casually follow the world of pop culture, then you know that many, many six-to-thirteen year-olds have been throwing their dollars (or their parents' dollars, rather) for the past year-and-a-half at something called "High School Musical." Originally broadcast on the Disney Channel as a TV movie in January 2006, "High School Musical" brought then-record-breaking ratings and created instant stars out of its relatively unknown cast. The soundtrack was arguably a bigger hit, selling millions of copies to become the top-selling album of 2006. Disney Channel had a lot of successful series before, but for whatever reason, "High School Musical" gave the channel a lot more gravitas, and more intense interest. So what's a better way to announce to the world that a new, full-blown franchise is at hand? Why, have a live concert spin-off, of course! Given the mania of its stars and the popularity of its music, Disney has created a very logical extension (other than sequels and merchandise galore): introducing "High School Musical: The Concert."

In case you missed it at a local arena near you - or want to re-live it all over again - Disney has now released the live concert on DVD. The concert actually did tour in major arenas around the country, and based on a remark from a cast member in the opening number, it appears this experience was filmed in Houston. As far as a concert goes though, this isn't much of a spectacle: I think the thrill stems if you're ten, and actually at at the concert seeing your favorite teen idols perform live (partially... I could be wrong, but I do suspect some lip-synching) with all the songs you know by heart... and some you don't (some of the cast goes solo to sing their own material, to of course, plug their own solo albums). For a good hour, the cast (actually, it's only some of the cast - was Zac Efron too busy filming "Hairspray"?) jumps around and there isn't much in the way of sets: a few spare props to go along with some songs, plus a giant screen in the background with clips from the TV movie. For those unfamiliar with the original TV movie, this probably isn't the best place to start - the plot isn't reiterated. But for this DVD release, between songs some of the concert cast gives brief "insights" on the thrills of performing live.

This concert won't convert those who despise the cheery goodness of "High School Musical"; in fact, it'll probably annoy them further. Parents, if you're sick of your children spinning the CD in your car, prepare to re-live all those tunes when you sit down with them to watch this DVD. But for those who can't get enough of those Wildcats, want a new experience with those favorite tunes, and want to feel a bit more up close and personal with (much of) the original cast, then surely you'll love every second of this concert, and it probably won't leave your DVD player until "High School Musical 2" comes out on disc. Everyone: we're now living in a "High School Musical" world, and are in the wave of a sheer phenomenon that has hit a nerve in the hearts of tweens everywhere. There is no turning back.

 

Shame on you Disney! Even though the box says this is a full screen presentation, it is, in fact, in widescreen... albeit non-anamorphic. I don't know the logic behind this decision. Honestly, when was the last time a new DVD release had a non-anamorphic transfer? Aren't most kids use to widescreen aspect ratios by now? Other than this glaring oversight, the concert looks decent at best and would have greatly improved with additional resolution. Edge enhancement is apparent, there seems to be a lack of sharpness and contrast is way too high... this results in a lot of glare and noise. I don't know how relevant to talk about the video quality is. Are kids likely to care? An no offense to you die-hard fans, but is this concert really the musical event of the century that needs the most pristine video quality?

 

The English Dolby Digital 5.1 track is pretty direct, and well-balanced: you get the sense this is a concert with all the screaming fans, but it's regulated to the background and doesn't become anything overwhelming. Otherwise, all the vocals from the young stars are clear, the music itself is pretty boisterous and the sound quality has high fidelity and strong dynamics. Certainly pleasing, overall. English subtitles and English closed captions are included too, so feel free to turn them on and sing along!

 

Nothing much. The first feature is entitled Jordan Pruitt. I am going to assume Ms. Pruitt was the opening act for the concert tour. Her four songs are in non-anamorphic widescreen and 2-channel sound. Most substantial is High School Musical: On The Road. Lasting nine minutes, you get a good idea of what it's like to be a wholesome teen idol on the road: the fans, the tour busses, the sound checks, the dressing rooms and tons of food. Sigh... life is good. There's also U Direct, which is a multi-angle feature for some of the songs.

And of course, perhaps a big selling point for this DVD: a Sneak Peek At High School Musical 2. Don't be fooled: you just get some very brief behind-the-scenes footage, that don't reveal anything. But here's some good news: inside the keep case you get a mini-poster for "High School Musical 2." Perfect to fit in any junior high locker.

 

I'm not the ideal demographic for this title, but it's still easy to tell why High School Musical has become such a phenomenon: it has a likable tween cast, familiar character archetypes and the songs are pretty damn catchy (clean pop perfection doesn't get any more glittery than this). The DVD should please the target audience: the 5.1 track is solid, the non-anamorphic transfer looks pretty good and there are a few extras that further feed into the phenomenon. I'm sure parents will be snatching this title up for the kiddies... anything to tie them over until the sequel in a few short weeks, right?