The film, which has been described as a modern adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, saw Efron playing the male lead Troy Bolton, a high school basketball player who feels conflicted when he finds himself interested in participating in the school musical with Gabriella Montez (Vanessa Hudgens), a girl from the scholastic decathlon team.
The film, which also starred Ashley Tisdale, Lucas Grabeel, Corbin Bleu, and Monique Coleman in pivotal roles, became a major success and helped Efron gain recognition among teenage audiences.
He began acting professionally in the early 2000s, and rose to prominence in the late 2000s for his leading role in the High School Musical franchise (2006–2008).
During this time, he also starred in the musical film Hairspray (2007) and the comedy film 17 Again (2009).
He was recommended to an agent in Los Angeles by his drama teacher, Robyn Metchik (the mother of actors Aaron Michael Metchik and Asher Metchik).
He performed in shows such as Gypsy; Peter Pan; or, The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up; Little Shop of Horrors; and The Music Man.In his subsequent musical films, Efron did his own singing.Efron was next seen playing the role of Link Larkin in the musical comedy film Hairspray (2007), based on the 2002 Broadway musical of the same name.The film received almost unanimously negative reviews from critics, but became a major success at the box office.He also played a supporting role in the critically successful Liberal Arts (2012), which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2012 and received a limited release later that year.