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High School Musical 3: Senior Year - Kenny Ortega interview

High School Musical 3: Senior Year

Interview by Rob Carnevale

KENNY Ortega, the creator of the High School Musical franchise, talks about working on the third film for the big screen, the appeal of the phenomenon and why he’d be happy to make another four or five movies if it continues to make people happy…

Q. Seeing your baby blossom like this must be an incredible experience, from a TV show to a global phenomenon. Can you tell us a little about how it must feel?
Kenny Ortega: Certainly no one could have expected that we would be enjoying the ride as we are. Last night’s turn out in London is beyond anything any of us would have imagined or dreamed that this project would bring us to. To feel that warmth, excitement, adoration and enthusiasm from our audience is deeply fulfilling. For me, I started High School Musical 1 with the hopes that by directing and choreographing an original movie for television, it might pull the drapes back once again, for me and my life, and offer me an opportunity to direct for the big screen, and hardly did I imagine that it would be High School Musical itself that would be my chance to do that once again. So, it’s a dream fulfilled, we hope that we meet the expectations of our fans, and therefore we’re lucky enough to do that. I’m certain that Peter Barsocchini, our writer, and the Disney company would look to another generation of fun with this franchise.

Q. As you move forward, will you miss working with this cast?
Kenny Ortega: I’m really excited, like a proud parent, looking at all of our young performers and knowing they’re moving into the world now with lots more to do.

Q. Maybe the greatest tribute to the High School Musical series of films is that currently throughout the world there are something like 10,000 amateur productions being staged of the show. Can you comment on that as well?
Kenny Ortega: And less important than that, there are 10,000 productions of High School Musical that are being staged, 9,000 of which are in schools that didn’t have any play productions before, and hopefully High School Musical becomes the beginning of many more to follow. We’re seeing a huge revival and interest in music, dancing and theatre not just in America but all over, and we’re now starting to see kids and parents doing the work to get more funding, and a kind of revival in spirit for musical theatre, and that’s a great and wonderful thing to know that you had something to do with.

Q. What do you think the appeal of High School Musical has been for so many people?
Kenny Ortega: These kids and what they represent is very attractive and universal. I think the work that they’ve done to give truth and meaning and depth to these characters has reached an audience that is worldwide and multi-cultural, that comes from all kinds of economic and social backgrounds. I think our composers and lyricists have given a new feeling to an old-fashioned idea.

For instance, I met a little girl in an orphanage in Africa, in Nairobi, where every child in there is HIV positive or is living with AIDS. She’s 15 and her name is Joyce, and I’ll never forget her, and I’ll work for her for the rest of my life. She said to me: “Thank you for High School Musical, Mr Ortega, because you’ve given me back my hope and you’ve given me back my courage.” And if someone can find that in a little movie like High School Musical then I’ll do four, I’ll do five, I’ll do six, I’ll do seven of them.

Read our review of High School Musical 3