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Bleu Trying To Establish Identity Beyond "High School Musical"

Of the Oakland Press

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Corbin Bleu wants to be a little modest about his expectations for "High School Musical 2." But after record-setting premiere ratings and a chart-topping solo album, it's not hard.

"I think we definitely knew it was going to do well, just because the first one did so well and there were so many fans," says Bleu, 18, who plays amiable jock Chad Danforth. "We knew all the people that enjoyed the first move were gonna want to see the second movie. We didn't know it was gonna become as much of a phenomenon, but we definitely knew the first night was gonna do well."

"High School Musical 2's" Disney Channel premiere drew 17.2 million viewers, setting record for the most-watched basic cable program ever. The first "High School Musical" drew 7.7 million viewers in 2006. The "HSM2" soundtrack, meanwhile, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart.

The New York-born Bleu, who moved to California when he was seven and has been acting most of his life, is confident "HSM2" will compare well to its predecessor -- which has launched a series of spin-offs including a concert tour, stage play several different versions of the DVD and, yes, an ice show. "We didn't want to recreate 'High School Musical' or copy it," he says. "I think we went in just to create a separate, really good movie."

Right now, however, Bleu is trying to get out of high school a bit. He's on the road promoting his first album, "Another Side," and though he's in negotiations for a third "HSM" role he's also looking to latch onto another feature film.

But, he adds, he'll never mind being Chad.

"Of course I have my fans from 'High School Musical,' " Bleu notes. "It's incredible 'cause it really fills up the show. Every single person who comes is a major fan of 'High School Musical,' but I feel like people really see me, not (Chad).

"It's a very different show than 'High School Musical.' It's my own album. It's my own show. So it's cool; there's a little bit of a separation."

Aly & AJ, Corbin Bleu, Drake Bell and Bianca Ryan perform at 7 p.m. Thursday (August 30th) at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are $39.50 and $29.50 pavilion, $18.50 lawn. Call (248) 377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

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