Picture this: you’re the star of your school’s theatre department. You’ve spent hundreds of hours of your life working on vocal runs and practicing choreography in dance classes. Countless cups of tea and ice packs on your horribly sore feet have kept your dream alive, and you’re ready to take your junior year by storm—this is your first real chance to impress the people of your future, to stamp your resumé with a star, and to gild high school as one of the greatest times of your life.
And then: CATASTROPHE. A beautiful and fresh young ingenue struts onto the scene and steals your spotlight. Yes, you should be more willing to share the stage. Yes, you may be a bit dramatic. But you’ve worked for the credit to your name, and now it’s been abruptly snatched away.
This is the life of our very own Sharpay Evans. A while back, Sharpay’s character arc in the Disney Channel original movie series High School Musical was a hot topic on social media. People began to argue about whether or not she was truly the evil person that the movie made her out to be, and I’m here to tell you that the answer to that debate is a firm “no.” Sharpay Evans, the woman that bopped her way to the top, is the VICTIM of High School Musical, NOT the villain.
And I’ve got the receipts to back it up.
Not only did Sharpay practice endlessly for school musicals (she had her own practice pianist), she proved her worth as a showstopping actress and performer by starring in 17 student productions prior to Twinkle Towne. People often perceive Sharpay with angry hearts when they hear her amazing vocals during “Stick to the Status Quo”— they want to blame her for pushing down people’s creativity, but in reality, she’s just scared of losing everything she’s worked so hard for.
Sharpay is not trying to prevent people from finding the love and joy of theater—she even says that there is always room for supporting roles. She simply disagrees with people being granted leading roles when they barely showed up for the audition and took the whole theater class as a joke. For Sharpay, drama is just as important to her life as basketball is to Troy’s and science is to Gabriella’s.
The victimization of Ms. Evans is furthered in the second installment in the series; Sharpay has spent all year preparing for her annual summer talent show, an event she single-handedly organized.
Yes, her motives behind landing Troy and the other Wildcats a job is suspicious. However, she shows a rare moment of kindness when she doesn’t immediately fire them upon their arrival. In reality, Sharpay is yearning for friendship—she just doesn’t know how to express it.
Sharpay’s one summer wish was to get away from her spotlight snatchers and have three months of freedom; instead, she had yet another starry moment stolen. Of course, Sharpay was wrong in her approach to winning the show. She definitely didn’t need to ban all of her classmates from participating in the talent show, and I acknowledge that she was in the wrong.
However, it never helps to fight fire with fire. Troy, Gabriella, and the others devised a cruel plan to trick Sharpay out of performing. They saw that she was emotionally wrecked, and yet they still persevered, getting her hopes up about performing and humiliating her on stage.
Unsurprisingly, Disney continued with its unoriginal character arc for Sharpay by making her the “villainous victim” in High School Musical 3. In this film, Sharpay is ready for her senior year debut… which crashes and burns when a blonde look-a-like stalker trains to take her spot on stage. Sharpay practically saved the musical; when Gabriella failed to show up for her performance, Sharpay took to the stage. Troy failed to make his appearance on time, and she just kept singing until someone finally arrived.
She is the queen of improvisation and show-biz, and she is SO underappreciated. While I love the whole High School Musical series, I wish they had given Sharpay a bit more recognition and a stronger, more positive characterization.
Luckily, Sharpay kept looking ahead and took her leap of faith in the spinoff movie, Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure. If you want to see our princess of pop take the world by storm, give it a watch! After all, Sharpay’s gonna shine…