A new stage musical based on the Disney Channel's popular High School Musical will embark on an extensive UK tour next year, in a co-production between Disney Theatricals and Stage Entertainment. Opening at the Churchill Theatre Bromley on 23 January 2008, the musical will tour to 11 venues throughout the year, with several more to be confirmed in September.

The stage adaptation tells how Troy, a popular high school basketball star, and Gabriella, a shy, academically gifted newcomer, discover they share a secret passion for singing. When they sign up together to audition for the lead roles in the school musical, it threatens East High's rigid social order and sends their peers into uproar.

Since its US premiere in January 2006, the made-for-TV movie High School Musical has gone on to become a global phenomenon. Winner of two Emmy Awards, the soundtrack has been certified Double Platinum in the UK alone, while DVD sales have topped 1.6 million. In the US, a concert production toured last year with almost its entire original cast intact, with an ice version and stage production set to tour from August 2007. A UK ice arena tour will open at The 02 in London in December 2007, followed by a further six venues.

The stage adaptation features a book by David Simpatico (adapted from the original movie script by Peter Barsocchini) and a score including songs ‘Breaking Free’ and ‘We’re All In This Together’, plus two new numbers written especially for the tour. The production will be directed by Jeff Calhoun, whose credits include the Broadway revivals of Grease and Big River. The touring company of 34 actors will also include a live orchestra, with casting due to be announced later this year.

Thomas Schumacher, President and Producer of Disney Theatrical Productions, said, "As someone who has been passionate about theatre since I was a kid, I am thrilled that we will be touring this remarkably popular title as a fully realised stage production, and most certainly introducing countless young people to the world of theatre for the very first time. You can’t ask for more than that."

Following Bromley, High School Musical tours to Stoke-on-Trent, Norwich, Edinburgh, Wolverhampton, Woking, Birmingham, Milton Keynes, Wimbledon, Manchester, Bristol and Glasgow, with further dates to be announced in September.

High School Musical will be the second Disney Theatricals venture into the regions in 2008, following the recent announcement that the West End production of Mary Poppins will close to embark on an extensive regional tour next year (See News, 1 Jun 07).

- by Jake Brunger