Sunday, January 6, 2008

Supporting Actress Blog-a-thon: Ashley Tisdale in "High School Musical 2"

For my entry in StinkyLulu's 2007 Supporting Actress Blog-a-thon, I chose a performance that you couldn't see at your local megaplex this year. Instead, this lovely young woman was actressing from the edges in the biggest cable event ever: High School Musical 2. You may have heard of it. That guy from Hairspray was in it and that chick who took naked pictures of herself was there too. But the one woman who stole the whole damn show was...


Ashley Tisdale as Sharpay Evans in High School Musical 2

Before I begin, let me just say that this post is in no way a defense of the travesty that is High School Musical 2. The first one was crappy as it is, but had a teensy bit of charm to make up for it. For the second one, it seems no one gave a shit anymore and decided to ride this cash cow for all it was worth. The choreography was stiff, the sound quality of the songs were dreadful (there was no attempt at all to make the voices sound like they weren't done in a studio), most of the songs could have been interchanged with ones from the original (I didn't like "We're All in This Together" the first time, why would I want to hear it reincarnated as "All For One"?) and the story was so contradictory and contrived it's not even funny (Zac Efron's Troy literally says at one point "I don't care about my future, I only care about what my friends think"...what kind of message is this for the tweens watching this?)

The one person to emerge from this car wreck unscathed was Ashley Tisdale. She's the only person in the cast, I think, who understands the whole point of the High School Musical series- she doesn't take herself too seriously and lets loose with reckless abandon all over the film. Tisdale steals every scene she's in with nothing more than a huge attitude, big sunglasses and a mission to land Zac Efron's Troy. If you thought she chewed the scenery in the original, in High School Musical 2 Tisdale doesn't chew the scenery, she devours it, ripping it apart like a savage animal and merely leaving scraps for her fellow castmates.

Now, anyone who reads my site knows about my obsession/fetish with divas. I can't get enough of them no matter how hard I try and Tisdale's Sharpay is easily becoming one of my favorites. One of the finest moments of her performance is, after discovering that her brother Ryan is working with the East High kids on a routine that might beat her in the annual country club talent show, Tisdale, with her lapdog in tote, looks over at the drummer, says "Give me a beat" and struts out of the room to her own exit music. I nearly died when I saw this because having exit music everytime I leave the room is one of my diva wet dreams.

Some of Tisdale's most winning moments come in the musical numbers, which is almost a miracle given the quality of the songs. Her first solo is the number "Fabulous," in which she laments about everything she needs to survive and why people aren't accommodating her every need. There is this tiny little moment during the song where she coos to her brother Ryan and three of her cronies "I need, I need" while drawing them in and then quickly shunning them out, toying with them like the chess pieces they are in the quest to fulfill her needs.



Troy and Gabriella sing the orignal, lame ballad version of "You Are the Music in Me" that I swore was that "Soaring, flying" song from the first film. Sharpay later decides that she needs Troy instead of her usual partner Ryan in the talent show, commandeers the song and makes it her own. He tells her to go easy on him, since he's not used to performing in public, so of course fireworks explode all around them, the music blasts from the live band and three backup singers chime in behind them. The song is supposed to be a duet, but Sharpay, in true diva fashion, manages to upstage Troy; there's no way she's letting a pesky boy get in the way of her shining moment (even if it is the boy she wants).



Since Sharpay is the so-called "bad girl" in High School Musical 2, she has to get her come-uppance. It happens right before her and Troy are supposed to head on stage for the talent show and he decides he doesn't want to do it with her anymore because "his friends are more important." What follows is probably Tisdale's finest moment in the film. Instead of having a massive meltdown, screaming and throwing things like you would expect, she quiets down for the first time and we see the vulnerability behind Sharpay's mask. She needs to perform and be the best in order to carry on, so when this falls apart, she doesn't know what to do. It's a beautiful moment on par with Meryl Streep's and Rachel McAdams' "come-uppances" in The Devil Wears Prada and Mean Girls, respectively.

Ashley Tisdale's achievement in High School Musical 2 is not something to just be dismissed as "over the top" or "good, for a kids movie." It's an ingenious performance that even her castmates try to steal a part of. In the beginning of the film, Vanessa Hudgens's Gabriella approaches Sharpay and tries to out-Sharpay Sharpay by imitating her hilarious vocal warm ups from the first film and then making this really strange war cry to scare her. Tisdale, ever the opportunist, steals the scene back from the lesser Hudgens with her reaction: backing into the locker and making this face that's a mixture between "Evaporate smart person" and "Please don't eat me!" It's moments like these where Ashley Tisdale really proves her worth.

3 comments:

Vertigo's Psycho said...

Fun choice and post (I didn't see either Musical, but I might have to give Tisdale a look in something now).

And don't we all want our own diva exit music, really?

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