The blonde hair and flashy outfits. The double pink lockers—half made up a closet. The pink Porche with a bedazzled license plate that read “FABULUS.” Sharpay Evans from the “High School Musical” movie trilogy was nothing short of an icon. Even though she was portrayed as the antagonist, you can’t help but feel drawn to the talented, Barbie-esque diva.
Throughout the three movies, different aspects of Sharpay shine through. The audience, if they are willing to open their eyes, should see her character has depth to it. I personally think elements of Sharpay’s character should not be portrayed in a negative light and she is, in fact, redeemable. Here’s why.
For the sake of clarity, I’ll focus on Sharpay’s storylines in “High School Musical” and “High School Musical 3: Senior Year” because they follow her while she is involved with her beloved theater department at East High.
In the first movie, Sharpay’s attitude towards newcomers Troy and Gabriella is shown to be catty and unwelcoming. Sharpay had been performing with her brother Ryan for her entire life. The theater department, to her, is everything. She is protective of her passion, not knowing where Troy and Gabriella’s intentions lay in their involvement.
Although changing the date of callbacks is a selfish move, it only demonstrates the dedication Troy and Gabriella lack in comparison to Sharpay. Sharpay would not hesitate to cancel anything on the day of callbacks.
The siblings’ number “Bop to the Top” is fully choreographed, costumed and mic-ed. They have clearly rehearsed this piece for ages. Their hard work is cast aside due to the audience’s reaction to Troy and Gabriella’s number. That audience was not even present for Sharpay and Ryan’s performance, making them undoubtedly biased toward Troy and Gabriella.
At the close of the movie, Sharpay graciously encourages Gabriella, the rookie who took away the thing she held most dear, by telling her to “break a leg.” Gabriella does not even know that this simple theater term is synonymous with “good luck,” furthering my point.
In “High School Musical 3: Senior Year,” one of Sharpay’s first scenes reveals she requires a personal assistant. As we saw in the first movie, Sharpay works endlessly and this movie only continues to prove how hard she works since she now needs extra help to handle all her responsibilities.
Her assistant has extremely selfish motives, plotting to take Sharpay’s role in the show at the last minute. Just like with everything else, Sharpay is forced to defend her passion and ends up going on stage with her and one-upping her impostor with her own talents.
The conflict of the third movie revolves around the seniors’ relationship with the future and the past. At the beginning of the movie, Gabriella convinces her friends to all contribute to their last show. Sharpay now must deal with an entire slew of people who believe they have better things to do than be on a stage, which is her entire livelihood.
The climax of the movie occurs when Gabriella and Troy break up because Gabriella goes to college early, consequently ditching the show she convinced everyone to be a part of. Troy goes after her and ditches the show as well. Putting their abandonment in context with Sharpay testing their dedication by changing the callback date in the first movie, her motivations are justified.
Troy’s understudy, “Rocket Man,” goes on in his stead and creates a laughingstock of the show Sharpay poured herself into. But, always not one to hold grudges, Sharpay turns the other cheek and is friends with everyone by the end.
Aside from her killer outfits and dance numbers, the character Sharpay Evans is a hard-working and dedicated actress who overcomes every obstacle thrown at her—she should not be portrayed as a villain. Her catty actions originate from earnest intentions to protect theater, what she loves most.
Image courtesy of Bethany Roberts ’20