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Puberty by Disney 

by MICHAEL BOWEN & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & W & lt;/span & hen you're young, sometimes life plays out like something you'd see in the movies. Or onstage. & r & & r & John Jeffrey Martin has been playing the lead, Troy Bolton, in Disney's High School Musical for more than a year. When I called him at the national tour's San Francisco stop, he was seeking escape by surfing the waves at Pacifica. He'd been in a relationship "ever since the show opened in Atlanta," but there'd been a recent breakup. It probably wasn't the best time to ask him about Zac Efron (who plays Troy in the movie versions of HSM).





* For the full transcript of Michael Bowen's interview, & lt;a href="#full" & click here & lt;/a & . *





How often do tween girls tell you that you're not as cute as Zac?


Never. I only get accolades, or I get nothin'. Tons of people have told me that I'm as good or better than Zac. You've gotta understand, the stage show is more down to earth... It's actors really acting. The movie is more like a music video, with lots of hip-hop sequences intertwined with all those camera angles. Onstage, it's more of a rock musical, with actors really playing their roles.





Ever get the sense that both the girl and her mother have a crush on you?


The little girls are not even aware of that part of themselves yet -- they're really pretty young. They're always asking if I know Zac, or if I'm friends with him. But doing eight shows a week, open-ended...





That must get kinda old.


Yeah, the novelty has sort of worn off.... Sometimes the mothers will give a little flirt. Maybe they think I'm actually still 17 or something. [Martin, a college graduate, will only say, "I'm in my 20s."]





Just to confirm: There's no Drew Seeley [who dubbed Efron's singing in the first HSM movie] singing in the wings while you're out there as Troy, right?


See, that's the thing. To me, we're singing our faces off. I mean, we're actors first and foremost. It takes a lot of stamina to do eight shows a week. I sing like -- and I don't want to scare anybody off here -- but I scream... I rock as hard as I can. I scream my face off every night.





& lt;span class= "dropcap " & H & lt;/span & SM onstage differs from HSM the movie(s) because it has a different cast, three new songs, and a greater emphasis on ensemble singing (as opposed to duets and solos).





Since its January 2006 DCOM premiere -- that's "Disney Channel Original Movie," duh -- High School Musical has spawned at least two sequels; concert albums; the screaming of teenage girls at stage productions in Australia, the U.K. and Spain; an ice show; and action figures are probably next.





It's a Romeo and Juliet story in which Troy/Romeo is the basketball star who really wants to try out for the school play, and Gabriella/Juliet is the brainy girl who also just wants to sing and dance -- and of course there are the brother-and-sister drama queens, and sidekicks drawn from the Brainiacs and the Jocks, and the finger-wagging drama teacher and the rah-rah coach. It's all about popularity and cliques and being yourself and getting kissed, and pre-teen girls eat it up like a bag full of Cheetos.





At Manhasset High School [in New York, just east of Queens], which clique were you in?


I wasn't in any clique. Or I was in an omni-clique. It was connected to all different groups -- some theater, some sports, some metalheads. It was great preparation for this show, because I had the exact same dilemma [that Troy does]. I was a huge baseball player, and I tried to balance JV baseball with theater -- but once I got with the varsity, I was told I couldn't do both.





But isn't the music from this show just bubble-gum pop? You're a musician [a guitarist] -- prove to me that a particular song is musically complex.


On "When There Was Me and You" -- a song that's a duet now but in the movie was a solo -- when I hear that orchestration, I think I am in a substantial musical, I am in my Broadway show. The way we have it, the ensemble is standing behind us, and it's just a really rich arrangement. And yeah, you could say that this is bubble-gum pop, but as a musician, I really respect the ability to write commercial music. It isn't easy.





The Jocks, Brainiacs and Thespians of High School Musical will dance and sing at the INB Center on Tuesday-Saturday, April 29-May 3, at 7:30 pm; on Saturday, May 3, at 2 pm; and on Sunday, May 4 (Bloomsday), at 1 pm and 6:30 pm. Tickets: $20-$60. Call 325-SEAT. For a longer version of this interview, visit www.inlander.com.





& lt;a name="full" & THE FOLLOWING IS THE FULL TRANSCRIPT OF THE INTERVIEW & lt;/a &





When you're young, sometimes life plays out like something you'd see in the movies. Or onstage.


John Jeffrey Martin has been playing the lead in Disney's High School Musical for more than a year. When I called him at the national tour's San Francisco stop, he was seeking escape by surfing the waves at Pacifica. He'd been in a relationship "ever since the show opened in Atlanta," but there'd been a recent breakup. It probably wasn't the best time to ask him about Zac Efron.





How often do tween girls tell you that you're not as cute as Zac Efron?


Never. I only get accolades, or I get nothin'. Tons of people have told me that I'm as good or better than Zac [who plays Troy in the movie versions of HSM]. You've gotta understand, the stage show is more down to earth than the movie. It's actors really acting. The movie is more like a music video, with lots of hip-hop sequences intertwined with all those camera angles. Onstage, it's more of a rock musical, with actors really playing their roles.





Ever get the sense that both the girl and her mother have a crush on you?


The little girls are not even aware of that part of themselves yet - they're really pretty young. They're always asking if I know Zac, or if I'm friends with him. But doing eight shows a week, open-ended....





That must get kinda old.


Yeah, the novelty has sort of worn off.... Sometimes the mothers will give a little flirt. Maybe they think I'm actually still 17 or something. [Martin, a college graduate, will only say, "I'm in my 20s."]





Just to confirm: There's no Drew Seeley [who dubbed Efron's singing in the first HSM movie] singing in the wings while you're out there as Troy, right?


See, that's the thing right there. To me, we're singing our faces off. I mean, we're actors first and foremost. It takes a lot of stamina to do eight shows a week. I sing like - and I don't want to scare anybody off here - but I scream.... I rock as hard as I can. I scream my face off every night.





Troy's a teenage basketball star. I'm 52 and bald. If we played one-on-one, would you use a cross-over dribble to take me to the rack and dunk on my sorry ass?


Well, I'd probably be blinded by the glare off your bald head. I'd probably bounce the ball through my legs and then do some kind of aerial maneuver on you.





Jeff, despite the lyrics to "Get'cha Head in the Game" ("take the ball to the hole / Like an old-school pro"), I'm scared to shoot the outside J. Any advice?


Well, I'm proud to shoot from anywhere on the court. I don't know what Zac had to go through to train for the basketball scenes in the movie, but I've always played, pretty much every day. I think that's a big part of why I got the part. I mean, I can sing and dance, and I've acted, so at callbacks, I did my thing and [director] Jess Calhoun pulled out a basketball from under the table, threw it at me and asked, "What can you do with this?" I probably dribbled it between my legs or something. And that helped.





& lt;span class= "dropcap " & H & lt;/span & igh School Musical is a kind of Romeo and Juliet story in which Troy/Romeo is the basketball star who really wants to try out for the school musical, and Gabriella/Juliet is the brainy girl who also just wants to sing and dance - and of course there are the brother-and-sister drama queens and sidekicks drawn from Brainiacs and the Jocks and the finger-wagging drama teacher and the rah-rah coach. It's all about popularity and cliques and being yourself and getting kissed, and pre-teen girls eat it up like a bag full of Cheetos.





Since its January 2006 DCOM premiere - that's "Disney Channel Original Movie" ("duh!") - it has spawned at least two sequels; concert albums; the screaming of teenage girls at stage productions in Australia, the U.K. and Spain; an ice show; and I'm pretty sure action figures are coming next.





HSM onstage differs from HSM the movie(s) because it has a different cast, three new songs, and a greater emphasis on ensemble singing (as opposed to duets and solos).





The lyrics to "Stick to the Status Quo" tell kids to "Stick to the stuff you know / If you want to be cool." But that's ironic - the whole point of the song is to embrace the contradictions in your character, that it's OK if a jock likes to whip up a nice cr & egrave;me brul & eacute;e. But is that kind of irony actually going to be picked up by tweens?


With those lyrics, I can totally see what you're saying. With the staging, that shows how our director Jeff Calhoun is a genius, because he makes it clear as we go around in all the different groups, that the point is not to conform. And Troy and Gabriella never once say it. We offer little contradictions to them. We sing, "Don't stick to the stuff you know." So our behavior makes it pretty clear that we think they're wrong for saying that stuff.





At Manhasset High School [in New York, just east of Queens], which clique were you in?


I wasn't in any clique. Or I was in an omni-clique. It was connected to all different groups - some theater, some sports, some metalheads. It was great preparation for this show, because I had the exact same dilemma [that Troy does]. I was a huge baseball player, and I was literally faced with the same dilemma. I tried to balance JV baseball with theater, but once I got with the varsity, I was told I couldn't do both.





OK, it's Bizarro World, and your cast and the cast of HSM on Ice have to swap jobs for a night. What happens?


I'd want to swap into the role of Kelsi, because that's the only speaking role in the ice show. She's the narrator figure for that show. Everybody else is just lip-syncing into fake mikes. But I don't know, I think I could probably do a triple Salchow while singing a high B flat.





Seriously now - can you skate?


Well, I'm not so good at stopping. I can't do those hockey stops with the toe thing. I just sort of ram into the wall.





But could the ice skaters sing?


Boy, I don't wanna say that they can't. I'm sure they're among the top-notch skaters in the country, to get a job in that show, just as our show is all top-notch singers. But I don't know, they probably do karaoke on the weekends. They could probably do all right.





What about backstage gossip? I heard that Olivia is totally crushing on Ben. [Olivia Oguma plays the composer of the inset musical; Ben Thompson used to perform the role of Zeke.]


Are you serious? But Olivia ... and besides, Ben broke his ankle. He left the show about four and a half weeks ago. And so they brought in this other guy, who's really good in the role. But Olivia and Ben? I don't think Olivia was really crushing on much of anybody.





One review said that you guys acted as if you had each just consumed nine Red Bulls.


I'm happy to hear that. The show starts out very upbeat.





Would Disney ever let you take your shirt off?


No, I don't think so. There was some talk of a locker room scene early on.... Another stupid thing we do backstage is that all the guys do a bunch of pushups right before we go on, just so our arms will look good.





Isn't this just bubble-gum pop? You're a musician [a guitarist] - prove to me that a particular song is musically complex.


On "When There Was Me and You" - a song that's a duet now but in the movie was a solo - when I hear that orchestration, I think I am in a substantial musical, I am in my Broadway show. The way we have it, the ensemble is standing behind us, and it's just a really rich arrangement. And yeah, you could say that this is bubble-gum pop, but as a musician, I really respect the ability to write commercial music. It isn't easy.





And indeed, if commercial pop songs are so easy to write, why aren't more people writing them? On the other hand, the songs and lyrics for HSM On Stage! were penned by 13 people. It's a musical-by-committee.

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