High School Musical: The Musical: The Series
High School Musical: The Musical: The Series is an American mockumentary musical drama streaming television series created for Disney+ by Tim Federle, inspired by the High School Musical film series. The series is produced by Chorus Boy and Salty Pictures in association with Disney Channel, with Oliver Goldstick serving as showrunner for the first four episodes. He was succeeded by Federle as showrunner for the remainder of the first season and thereafter.
|High School Musical: The Musical: The Series|
|Created by||Tim Federle|
|Based on||High School Musical|
by Peter Barsocchini
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||22|
|Production location||Salt Lake City|
|Running time||26–33 minutes|
|Distributor||Disney Platform Distribution|
|Picture format||4K (Ultra HD) HDR|
|Original release||November 8, 2019 –|
Set at a fictionalized version of East High School, the school at which the original movie was filmed, the series follows a group of teenage theater enthusiasts who participate in a staging of High School Musical: The Musical as their school production. The series stars Olivia Rodrigo, Joshua Bassett, Matt Cornett, Sofia Wylie, Larry Saperstein, Julia Lester, Dara Reneé, Frankie Rodriguez, Mark St. Cyr, Kate Reinders, and Joe Serafini.
High School Musical: The Musical: The Series premiered on Disney Channel, ABC, and Freeform as a preview simulcast on November 8, 2019, ahead of its launch on Disney+ on November 12. In October 2019, before the series debuted, Disney+ renewed the series for a second season, which premiered on May 14, 2021 and consisted of 12 episodes. The series has been positively received, with critical reviews highlighting the performances of the cast, particularly those of Bassett and Rodrigo. It won a GLAAD Media Award in 2020 for Outstanding Kids & Family Programming.
At a fictionalized version of East High School in Salt Lake City, Utah, where the High School Musical movies were filmed, a former background cast member, Miss Jenn, begins work as the new drama teacher. The teacher decides to stage a performance of High School Musical: The Musical for her first winter theater production to celebrate the school's affiliation with the original film. The students cast in the musical learn to navigate their interpersonal relationships and form bonds with each other, to overcome the challenges they face in their lives at school and home.
In the second season, the theater students of East High stage a production of Beauty and the Beast for the spring musical. Miss Jenn leads the cast in an attempt to win a prestigious local student theater competition while facing off against their rival school, North High.
Cast and charactersEdit
- Olivia Rodrigo as Nini Salazar-Roberts, a musical theater enthusiast. She is cast as Gabriella Montez in the first season and various chorus roles in the second season.
- Joshua Bassett as Ricky Bowen, a guitarist and skateboarder who previously dated Nini. In the first season, he is cast as Troy Bolton despite his initial lack of interest in the musical, and he is cast as the Beast in the second season.
- Matt Cornett as E. J. Caswell, a jock theater enthusiast Nini previously met at theater camp. He is cast as Chad Danforth and the understudy for Troy in the first season, and as Gaston in the second season.
- Sofia Wylie as Gina Porter, a transfer student with theater ambitions. She is cast as Taylor McKessie and the understudy for Gabriella in the first season, and as Babette the Featherduster in the second season.
- Larry Saperstein as Big Red, Ricky's best friend, who fills in as stage manager for the production whenever Natalie is unavailable, despite his lack of knowledge about theater. He is later shown to have hidden talents in tap dancing and knowledge of electronics. He auditions for the spring musical in the second season and is cast as Le Fou.
- Julia Lester as Ashlyn Caswell, E. J.'s cousin and an aspiring songwriter, who is cast as Ms. Darbus in the first season and as Belle in the second season
- Dara Reneé as Kourtney Greene, Nini's best friend and a self-proclaimed feminist, who works in the costuming department of the musical. She auditions for the musical in the second season and wins the role of Mrs. Potts.
- Frankie Rodriguez as Carlos Rodriguez, the choreographer of both productions, who works alongside Miss Jenn and is cast as Lumière in the second season
- Mark St. Cyr as Benjamin Mazzara, East High's STEM teacher, who is against the school's focus on the arts
- Kate Reinders as Miss Jenn, East High's new drama teacher, who appeared in the original High School Musical film as a background dancer and directs the school's production
- Joe Serafini as Seb Matthew-Smith (season 2; recurring season 1), a student who is cast in the role of Sharpay Evans in the first season and as Chip in the second season
- Alexis Nelis as Natalie Bagley, the stage manager for the production
- Nicole Sullivan and Michelle Noh as Carol and Dana (season 1), Nini's mothers
- Jeanne Sakata as Malou (season 1), Nini's grandmother
- Alex Quijano as Mike Bowen, Ricky's father, whose wife is estranged and currently living in Chicago
- Valente Rodriguez as Principal Gutierrez (season 1)
- Beth Lacke as Lynne Bowen (season 1, guest season 2), Mike's wife and Ricky's mother who returns to announce she and Mike are getting divorced
- Derek Hough as Zack (season 2), Miss Jenn's ex-boyfriend, an actor who teaches drama at rival school North High
- Olivia Rose Keegan as Lily (season 2), a competitive and pretentious new student at East High who misses out on a role in the musical and later transfers to North High. She is cast as Belle in their production.
- Roman Banks as Howie (season 2), a student who works at Big Red's family pizzeria. He is cast as the Beast in North High’s production.
- Andrew Barth Feldman as Antoine (season 2), a French foreign exchange student at North High. He is cast as Lumière in their production.
- Kimberly Brooks as Michelle Greene (season 2), Kourtney's mother
- Kaycee Stroh as Kaycee (season 1), a member of the school board. Stroh played Martha Cox in the original film.
- Lucas Grabeel as himself (season 1), appearing in a dream sequence. Grabeel played Ryan Evans in the original film.
- Asher Angel as Jack (season 2), a boy from Denver who Gina befriends at the airport
- Jordan Fisher as Jamie Porter (season 2), Gina's older brother who is a music producer
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||10||November 8, 2019[a]||January 10, 2020|
|Specials||2||December 14, 2019[b]||December 11, 2020|
|2||12||May 14, 2021||July 30, 2021|
Season 1 (2019–20)Edit
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original release date|
|1||1||"The Auditions"||Tamra Davis||Tim Federle||November 8, 2019[a]|
|Ricky returns to school for the new year to discover that his former girlfriend, Nini, is now dating E. J., whom she met at a theater camp over the summer. On her first day as the new drama teacher at East High, Miss Jenn announces that the school will be staging a production of High School Musical: The Musical. Mr. Mazzara, East High's STEM teacher, warns Miss Jenn of the need to be professional while at work. Nini is inspired to audition for the musical after typically participating as a chorus member; and Ricky decides to audition in an attempt to impress Nini and rekindle their relationship. Nini meets transfer student Gina, who intimidates her with her dance abilities. Nini boldly auditions for the role of Gabriella by singing "Start of Something New", while Ricky auditions for Troy by singing the song that Nini previously wrote for him as a declaration of her love; "I Think I Kinda, You Know". Upset, Nini confronts Ricky, before the cast list is posted, revealing Ricky and Nini in the lead roles of Troy and Gabriella respectively.|
|2||2||"The Read-Through"||Tamra Davis||Oliver Goldstick||November 15, 2019|
|Miss Jenn starts rehearsals for the musical with a cast read-through of the script. Nini tries to avoid Ricky, as she is unimpressed that he auditioned to get closer to her, rather than for the benefit of the production. Nini criticizes Ricky for not taking the production seriously, which leads him to contemplate quitting. However, Gina convinces Ricky to continue participating in the hope that his romantic attempts cause Nini to quit, allowing her to assume the role of Gabriella. This backfires when Nini is impressed by Ricky's newfound efforts to practice the dance routines. E. J. is jealous of Ricky being cast as Troy, and after suspecting that Ricky has been messaging Nini behind his back, he plans to steal Nini's phone and check her messages. Gina steals Nini's phone on E. J.'s behalf, and offers an alliance; to help him remove Ricky from the musical so that he can play Troy opposite Nini. Meanwhile, Miss Jenn acquires a prop from the original film, Gabriella's phone, to be displayed throughout the show's run.|
|3||3||"The Wonderstudies"||Tamra Davis||Zach Dodes||November 22, 2019|
|In possession of Nini's phone, E. J. listens to a heartfelt voicemail that Ricky leaves for her and deletes it; before returning the phone to lost and found out of guilt. Nini arrives late to rehearsals after Gina reschedules the session, aware Nini would not receive the update. Nini feels intimidated when Gina choreographs a complicated dance routine, and steals some of her belongings in retaliation, believing Gina stole her phone. E. J. convinces Nini to return the items, and writes a song for her, "A Billion Sorrys", when he realizes he must confess his own actions. After E. J. hints that he listened to the voicemail, Ricky inadvertently reveals to Nini that E. J. stole her phone. Meanwhile, Mr. Mazzara confronts Miss Jenn about the prop phone she acquired; finding a receipt for her purchase of the item online after she claimed it was a gift from original film's cast members. Mr. Mazzara rebukes Miss Jenn when he discovers she was merely an extra in the film and suggests her position at the school was awarded based on the false claim that she had a larger role. He pressures her to inform her students.|
|4||4||"Blocking"||Chad Lowe||Margee Magee||November 29, 2019|
|Nini confronts E. J. about stealing her phone; he expresses his belief that she still has feelings for Ricky. The pair argue before a blocking rehearsal, which results in the pair singing a strained rendition of "What I've Been Looking For" with E. J. stepping in for his understudy role. Miss Jenn disapproves of the cast not taking rehearsals seriously and implores the students to resolve their personal issues. E. J. tries to apologize, but Nini blocks his phone number, deciding to break up with him. Ricky's mother returns home to reveal that she and his father are separating and that she will be moving to Chicago. Ricky is discernibly hurt by the news and plans to stay at his best friend Big Red's house for the night, before relocating to Nini's house after speaking with her mother, Carol. Nini comforts Ricky, and the two share a romantic moment before she discovers that he has left the house. Nini laments the loss of her relationship and resurfacing feelings for Ricky, by writing the song "All I Want". Meanwhile, Gina devises a new plan to claim the lead role, by convincing E. J. to become her date to the upcoming homecoming dance.|
|5||5||"Homecoming"||Joanna Kerns||Tim Federle||December 6, 2019|
|Nini decides to miss the homecoming dance and spend the night with Kourtney and Miss Jenn to prevent her from overthinking her recent breakup. Miss Jenn attempts to reignite Nini's focus on the production and encourages her to have more confidence in herself at a karaoke lounge. Miss Jenn meets Ricky's father Mike during the night and a romantic connection is instigated between the two. Carlos, the drama club's choreographer, assists Seb, who will be playing Sharpay, in rehearsing the dance routine for "Bop to the Top" and the pair arrange to attend the upcoming dance together. Although Carlos is initially disheartened when it appears that Seb has stood him up, the two begin a relationship when Seb merely arrives late. Gina takes E. J. as her date to the dance in the hope that the unwanted drama would force Nini to quit her role, and is disheartened when the plan doesn't work out. Ricky scolds Gina for taking advantage of E. J., and after apologizing, he drives her home and the pair bond. Miss Jenn checks her phone to find missed calls and messages from Principal Gutierrez, who arranges an urgent meeting as a result of her neglecting her chaperone duties for the dance.|
|6||6||"What Team?"||Kimberly McCullough & Joanna Kerns||Oliver Goldstick||December 13, 2019|
|Miss Jenn is indefinitely suspended from her position after Principal Gutierrez discovers she lied about her teaching experience and credential during the application process. Carlos is forced to act as stand-in for Miss Jenn's directing duties and delivers the news to the cast when the pressure becomes unendurable. The students discuss the positive impact that Miss Jenn has had on their schooling lives and decide to stand up for her. They band together to stage and rehearse a performance of the song "Truth, Justice and Songs in Our Key" at the school board meeting to convince the panel to continue employing Miss Jenn. The presentation proves successful and Miss Jenn's position is reinstated. At the meeting, Miss Jenn discovers that Mike is Ricky's father. Meanwhile, Nini becomes jealous of Ricky's newfound friendship with Gina when she witnesses him sing an acoustic version of "When There Was Me and You" to her. E. J. decides to clear his conscience by confessing his secrets and lies to Nini.|
|7||7||"Thanksgiving"||Kimberly McCullough||Ann Kim||December 20, 2019|
|Over the holiday break for Thanksgiving, Ashlyn, E. J's cousin, arranges a party for the theater students. Ricky calls his mother and discovers she is in a new relationship with a different man, and Gina empathizes with Ricky based on her own family's struggles. Nini makes an effort to connect with Gina at the party before Gina's mother calls to tell her she has been redeployed for work and they will be moving again. Big Red bonds with Ashlyn after he learns she is the co-captain of the robotics team. Ashlyn encourages Nini to write a song about herself rather than her relationships, leading her to compose "Out of the Old", and consider applying for a performing arts school based in Denver. E. J. discovers that he has lost a significant amount of his social media following after he continues confessing to his immoral behavior. Meanwhile, Miss Jenn and Mr. Mazzara unexpectedly meet at school during the night to work on their respective extracurricular projects. The pair assist each other in their attempts, and they spend the rest of the night together at the school. They fall asleep watching a movie while an outlet sparks in the workshop.|
|8||8||"The Tech Rehearsal"||Joanna Kerns||Natalia Castells-Esquivel||December 27, 2019|
|The cast discovers that the East High theater was damaged by a fire over the holiday, leaving them unable to undertake rehearsals. Carlos arranges for the production to be hosted at the abandoned El Rey Theater downtown. Miss Jenn leads a technical rehearsal, but is hesitant to work at the theater due to an unpleasant memory regarding the original film premiere, where she discovered that her line in the movie had been cut. E. J. gains possession of Miss Jenn's personal casting notes and is dismayed to learn that she regarded him as unable to connect with the emotional material of the play. Nini and Ricky privately rehearse a scene together and rediscover their romantic connection while reminiscing about their friendship. Miss Jenn discovers Kourtney's singing ability during the rehearsal, before Kourtney makes a call to the performing arts school Nini was interested in. After falling unconscious in a dazed state, Miss Jenn dreams of performing the song "Role of a Lifetime" with Lucas Grabeel, which later inspires her to redirect the production back to East High.|
|9||9||"Opening Night"||Kabir Akhtar||Oliver Goldstick||January 3, 2020|
|On the opening night of the production, E. J. finds himself stepping into the role of Troy for act two. Eight hours earlier, the theater students prepare for their first performance. Miss Jenn secures the East High gymnasium as the performance venue, and asks Mr. Mazzara to help Big Red with the technical equipment. Ricky writes a song for Nini, "Just for a Moment", while Nini prepares a gift for Ricky; but the pair are hesitant to share these with each other. Miss Jenn asks Kourtney to play Taylor in the place of Gina, who has already moved away. Kourtney is relieved when Gina unexpectedly arrives mid-show to resume her role for the dance break of "Stick to the Status Quo". Nini is excited to learn that Kourtney invited the dean of the performing arts school to view the performance, but finds herself daunted by the pressure. Ricky is pleased to have his parents attend the show, but is unnerved when Lynne's new partner arrives during his solo of "Get'cha Head in the Game". Feeling disheartened, Ricky implores E. J. to finish the performance in his place.|
|10||10||"Act Two"||Kabir Akhtar||Tim Federle||January 10, 2020|
|E. J. begins playing the role of Troy for act two, while Ricky confronts his mother about bringing her new partner, Todd, to the show. Gina encourages Ricky to at least watch the rest of the production, but once inside, he witnesses E. J. step aside from his role during "Breaking Free" to allow Nini and Ricky to finish the performance together. Gina thanks E. J. for purchasing the plane ticket which allowed her to return. Mr. Mazzara is shocked to witness Big Red's technical skills and invites him to join the robotics club. Nini is upset when the dean of the performing arts school leaves mid-performance. After the show, Ricky comforts Nini before he declares his love for her and the pair kiss. Ricky admits that he was initially afraid to express his feelings. Ashlyn receives a bouquet of flowers from Big Red, and the pair later share a kiss. Principal Gutierrez confronts Miss Jenn and Mr. Mazzara, aware that they caused the school fire. Nini is surprised to see the dean return after the show. She congratulates Nini on the performance and offers her a place at the performing arts school, beginning in a month's time.|
|Title||Directed by||Original release date|
|"High School Musical: The Musical: The Series: The Special"||Clayton Cogswell||December 14, 2019[b]|
|This special features archive behind-the-scenes footage from the production of the original High School Musical film. Film director Kenny Ortega and cast member Corbin Bleu talk about their experience on the film and meet the cast of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. Lucas Grabeel also announces his guest appearance on the series. Series creator Tim Federle discusses the song "Just For a Moment", and the cast performs at the D23 Expo in Anaheim.|
|"High School Musical: The Musical: The Holiday Special"||Tim Federle||December 11, 2020|
|A holiday special in which the cast performs Christmas music. A song from the second season, "Something in the Air", is featured as a preview, as well as a performance of "The Perfect Gift" by Bassett.|
Season 2 (2021)Edit
|Title ||Directed by||Written by ||Original release date |
|11||1||"New Year's Eve"||Kimberly McCullough||Tim Federle||May 14, 2021|
|The East High theater students celebrate the beginning of the holiday break with a performance of "Something in the Air". Miss Jenn oversees the reconstruction of the school theater's stage while planning for their next production; High School Musical 2. She encounters her high school boyfriend and former stage rival Zack Roy, who has returned to rival school North High to lead the school's drama department in their production of The Little Mermaid, in the hope of winning the Alan Menken Award for high school theater productions. Intimidated, Miss Jenn decides to shift East High's spring musical to Beauty and the Beast to compete against her rival. During a New Year's Eve party at Ashlyn's house, she announces the change and reveals that she has entered the group into the competition. Ricky struggles with the news that his father will be downsizing to a smaller home. After hiding the news about her acceptance into the performing arts school from Ricky, Nini suddenly reveals to him that she will be moving to Denver.|
|12||2||"Typecasting"||Kimberly McCullough||Ann Kim||May 21, 2021|
|The drama students make preparations to audition for the new musical, using the song "Belle." Ricky feels hesitant to participate in the production as a result of Nini's sudden departure, but Miss Jenn recognizes his commitment and awards him the lead role of the Beast. Ashlyn resigns herself to the belief she will be typecast based on her previous role but is surprised to discover she has won the role of Belle. Two weeks after her departure, Nini begins to feel isolated at the performing arts school in Denver. She tries to enliven a classical acting scene with contemporary language, but her teachers are unimpressed and implore her to follow the school's strict guidelines. At East High, new student Lily attempts to befriend the cast, but the drama students are offended by her ill-mannered and pretentious attitude during the audition process. Miss Jenn declines to offer Lily a role in the show, leading her to contact the North High drama department.|
|13||3||"Valentine's Day"||Paul Hoen||Zach Dodes||May 28, 2021|
|Nini briefly travels home to Salt Lake to surprise Ricky for Valentine's Day, unaware that he has proceeded to Denver to surprise her as well. He later returns, and the pair stay in contact through phone calls; however, they fail to find a time to see each other in person during Nini's visit. Gina begins to miss her traditional Valentine's Day gift from her absent mother, and she finds comfort in talking to Ricky. Kourtney begins working as the assistant manager of Big Red's family pizzeria and struggles to earn the respect of long-time employee Howie. Rehearsals for Beauty and the Beast begin, and Ashlyn worries that she doesn't match the established appearance of Belle. Big Red reassures her and plans her a spectacular surprise for the holiday. Carlos and Seb also celebrate their first Valentine's Day together. Lily reveals to Miss Jenn that she will be transferring to North High to participate in their musical.|
|14||4||"The Storm"||Paul Hoen||Ritza Bloom||June 4, 2021|
|The students are forced to seek shelter at East High during a heavy storm, which causes a power outage at the school. Rehearsals continue and Carlos and Gina bicker over who can best choreograph "Be Our Guest". They eventually realize their similarities and agree to reach a compromise. Nini returns to East High to say goodbye to the drama club and finds out that E. J. was rejected from Duke University. Mr. Mazzara comforts E. J. by telling the story about his rejection from CalTech. Miss Jenn offers to drive Nini to the bus stop, but the pair get stuck in snow from the storm. Nini confesses to Miss Jenn that her time at the performing arts school has been less than ideal; she has been feeling stifled and unfulfilled. Miss Jenn reassures Nini that dreams can change, like when she gave up her dream of performing on Broadway for teaching. Nini bids farewell to Ricky at the bus stop and struggles to leave again. Miss Jenn is pleasantly surprised to find that Nini has not boarded the bus, and that she will be permanently returning to East High.|
|15||5||"The Quinceañero"||Kimberly McCullough||Emilia Serrano||June 11, 2021|
|To celebrate Carlos's 16th birthday, the drama students throw him the surprise quinceañero that he never had. Ricky's father Mike agrees to chaperone the party alongside Miss Jenn, and his affection for her intensifies. This leads to an awkward exchange with Mr. Mazzara, who is also in attendance, and growing increasingly fond of Miss Jenn. Mr. Mazzara mentors E. J. as the pair manage the audiovisual setup of the night. Seb sings "The Climb" for Carlos, and Gina performs a dance to show him how inspiring he is. She later calls her mother to say that she is ready to return home. Nini has returned to East High and watches from the sideline as the rest of the cast rehearse for the show. Ricky attempts to convince Miss Jenn to give her a role in the musical, although Nini hopes to continue her dreams of songwriting in order to further her career. However, when North High suddenly changes their production to Beauty and the Beast to fuel the rivalry, Miss Jenn desperately generates an innovative idea to allow Nini to return to the stage.|
|16||6||"Yes, And"||Kimberly McCullough||Ilana Wolpert||June 18, 2021|
|After North High posts an online video to advertise their show, Miss Jenn is inspired to lead her cast in a weekend of improvisational activities to foster team bonding and character study. Additionally, Miss Jenn creates a new role for Nini to allow her to participate in Beauty and the Beast, a personified version of the enchanted rose; Nini writes "The Rose Song" exclusively for East High's performance. Carlos films Nini singing the song to post online without her knowledge. Nini helps Kourtney find the confidence to admit her feelings for her colleague Howie, which he reciprocates. Ricky begins to feel as if his relationship with Nini is disintegrating and that things around him are changing too much. He expresses discomfort about his father's first date with Miss Jenn, which causes her to end the relationship. Contrary to her desires, Gina is forced to stay at East High, leading her to feel distant around her friends. It is revealed that at the end of last semester's musical, Gina admitted to Ricky that she had unrequited feelings for him. Now confused, Gina begins to question her emotions.|
|17||7||"The Field Trip"||Paul Hoen||Carrie Rosen||June 25, 2021|
|After E. J. and Gina begin hosting East High's morning news program together, the pair's bond strengthens. Kourtney reveals the completed Beauty and the Beast costumes to the cast, although the students suspect someone from North High has stolen the Beast's mask. As a result, they infiltrate their opposition school's drama department to recover the key costume piece. They are caught by Lily and challenged to a dance-off to "The Mob Song". The performance culminates with Kourtney discovering that Howie is a student at North High and will be playing the Beast in their production, leading her to feel betrayed. Meanwhile, Miss Jenn visits Zack in an attempt to make a truce between the schools, before she discovers that he was the one who stole the mask. Nini's performance of "The Rose Song" becomes popular online and Ricky feels left out of Nini's successful moment. Lily influences Ricky to feel disheartened about Nini's song; he confronts her with concern about the lyrics suggesting she is feeling confined in her relationship with him. Feeling unsupported, Nini begins a new social media account to share her music, adopting her true name, Nina.|
|18||8||"Most Likely To"||Paul Hoen||Nneka Gerstle||July 2, 2021|
|E. J. and Big Red rehearse the "Gaston" musical number, before the theater students are informed that rehearsals must be suspended for a week, as punishment for trespassing at North High. E. J.'s father speaks at Career Day and reveals that he has helped E. J. secure a place at Duke. E. J. doesn't accept the position, as he feels that he did not truly earn it. He and Gina bond while talking about his decision and their desires for the future. Big Red's aptitude test places him as suitable for the hospitality industry; he is upset that Ashlyn doesn't initially support this aspiration, but they later make amends. Kourtney is upset that Howie kept his role in North High's musical a secret from her. Howie responds by singing "If I Can't Love Her". Mr. Mazzara and Miss Jenn bond while he helps her film an audition for a television commercial. While Nini's online music account continues to gain popularity, Ricky becomes increasingly upset that the pair are not speaking. They fight about Ricky not understanding Nini's ambitions. The pair break up when they realise that they are holding each other back.|
|19||9||"Spring Break"||Brent Geisler||Natalia Castells-Esquivel||July 9, 2021|
|Over Spring break, Miss Jenn keeps in contact with the theater students through video call. She encourages them to remain focused on the musical, before North High posts an online video slandering East High. Nini and Ashlyn write a new song, "You Ain't Seen Nothin'", for the students to perform and film, which is uploaded in response. Ricky spends some time with his mother in Chicago after his break-up with Nini. His mother helps him process his feelings and come to terms with the situation. His mother reminds him that both him and Nini have changed and suggests he let Nini go in order to move on. This prompts Ricky to write a song, "Let You Go", discussing these feelings. While waiting for her flight to Louisiana, Gina's flight is delayed and she becomes stuck at the airport. Whilst she waits, she befriends Jack, whose father is a pilot. The pair spend some time together and intimately get to know each other. Jack encourages Gina to stop guarding her emotions and open herself up to a relationship. Before leaving the airport, Gina is greeted by E. J., as she contemplates her emotions.|
|20||10||"The Transformation"||Joanna Kerns||Jessica Leventhal||July 16, 2021|
|Two weeks before opening night, rehearsals for the Beast's transformation scene prove to be chaotic and underprepared. Miss Jenn discovers that North High has acquired the technical set design specifications from the original Broadway production, which inspires her to reconsider her plans for the scene. The theater students band together to conceive a new plan for the transformation. Meanwhile, Seb feels insecure in his relationship after Carlos returns from his vacation. Ricky helps Carlos write and perform a song for Seb, "In a Heartbeat", in order to address his feelings and consolidate their relationship. Gina and E. J. arrange to go on a date. After Kourtney obtains the technical plans from Howie, the cast set up a theatrical rigging system in order to suspend Ricky in the air on stage when the Beast transforms into a human. The students enter the auditorium and organize the wires unsupervised, elevating Ricky into the air. During the run-through of the transformation scene, the rope stretches and breaks, causing Ricky to fall to the ground.|
|21||11||"Showtime"||Joanna Kerns||Zach Dodes||July 23, 2021|
|On the opening night of the production, Ricky and Ashlyn prepare to perform with injured wrists as a result of the fall during rehearsals, while Nini hands out congratulatory notes for the cast. A representative of the local theater competition attends to judge the performance, which causes Miss Jenn to stress about the show. During the performance of "Be Our Guest", Miss Jenn instructs the crew to spotlight the judge; the cast later performs "Something There". Carlos and Big Red suffer from stage fright. Kourtney is greeted by Howie backstage, who is strangely anxious. E. J. and Gina plan to go on their first date. Gina's older brother Jamie attends the performance and congratulates her backstage; he inadvertently tells E. J. that he is filling an "older brother" role for Gina, which leaves him confused and disappointed. Lily approaches Ricky backstage and the pair bond, leading him to consider a friendship with her. Nearing the transformation scene, Ricky's harness for the rigging system goes missing. The students return to the stage using an alternate plan, as Lily sits in the audience with the stolen harness.|
|22||12||"Second Chances"||Kimberly McCullough & Joanna Kerns||Zach Dodes & Tim Federle||July 30, 2021|
|The performance concludes and Big Red surprises Ashlyn with a present, a sign with her name in lights. Impressed by her performance, Howie approaches Kourtney and the pair decide to resume their relationship. Nini and Ricky reconcile their friendship by reading each other their congratulatory cards. Miss Jenn holds onto hope for success in the theater competition, before the students decide that they would not like to learn of the outcome of their performance. Ultimately, they decide to abandon their place in the competition. Gina arranges for Nini to get in contact with Jamie to help set her music career in motion. Mr. Mazzara is offered a place in the robotics program at Caltech upon the recommendation of E. J.'s father. Ricky gives Miss Jenn his blessing to pursue a relationship with his father, before Mr. Mazzara also confesses his feelings for her. Ricky decides to give Lily a second chance and reaches out to her. Disheartened by Jamie's comments, E. J. cancels his date with Gina. Ashlyn corrects the misunderstanding and Gina and E. J. set out to have their first kiss.|
On November 9, 2017, it was announced that Disney was developing a television series adaptation of their High School Musical film series created by Peter Barsocchini. The series was expected to premiere on Disney's then-unnamed upcoming streaming service. The company had planned to adapt the franchise for television and approached creator Tim Federle to develop an idea for a series. Federle pitched the documentary-style series in January 2018 and went on to draft the pilot together with Disney Channel, who contributed to the production of the series.
On May 30, 2018, it was announced that Federle would serve as a writer and executive producer for the series. On September 6, Disney officially gave the production a series order for a first season consisting of ten episodes. Oliver Goldstick was expected to serve as showrunner and an additional executive producer while Julie Ashton would oversee the casting process. Alongside this announcement, it was also revealed that the show would be of the mockumentary genre and a list of character names and descriptions was released. By May 2019, Goldstick had departed the series over "creative differences", having served as showrunner for the first four episodes.
In October 2019, ahead of the release of the first season, Disney+ renewed the series for a second season. Federle stated that the second season's plot would not revolve around a production of High School Musical 2; it was revealed in February 2020 that the featured production would be Beauty and the Beast. The second season consisted of twelve episodes.
Federle drew inspiration for the mockumentary style of the series from other films and programs such as Waiting for Guffman and The Office. He was inspired to create a series that depicted music as a central theme, while also drawing on his experience as a former Broadway performer.
The series is inclusive of LGBTQ representation, with two gay characters featured: Carlos and Seb. In an interview with The Advocate, Frankie Rodriguez credited Federle for writing his character Carlos as gay without drawing on the tropes of a typical queer character. The character Seb plays the role of Sharpay in the musical, an example of non-traditional gender casting. The series begins the exploration of a same-sex relationship when Carlos asks Seb to the school dance in the episode "Homecoming". The series also depicts same-sex parenting through Nini's two mothers Carol and Dana. In addition to this representation, the series includes themes such as divorce.
Federle expressed the importance of casting real teenagers in main roles to add authenticity to the high school-based series. On October 17, 2018, it was announced that Joshua Bassett had been cast in a leading role. The rest of the cast was announced on February 15, 2019, including Sofia Wylie as Gina, Kate Reinders as Miss Jenn, and Olivia Rodrigo as Nini. Federle confirmed in November 2019 that an unnamed cast member from the original film would make a cameo appearance through a fantasy sequence. After being listed as a featured artist on the soundtrack, Lucas Grabeel, who played Ryan Evans, was confirmed to be making an appearance on the series. Grabeel appears in the episode "The Tech Rehearsal" as a fictionalized version of himself, performing in a song alongside Reinders. Kaycee Stroh, who played Martha Cox, also makes a cameo appearance in the episode "What Team?"
In December 2019, it was reported that Joe Serafini, who plays Seb Matthew-Smith, would be promoted to the main cast for the second season. Further additions to the recurring cast were revealed in early 2020: Roman Banks as Howie; Olivia Rose Keegan as Lily; and Derek Hough as Zack, Miss Jenn's ex-boyfriend. In February 2021, Andrew Barth Feldman and Asher Angel joined the cast for the second season in recurring guest roles, as Antoine and Jack respectively. It was revealed in July that Jordan Fisher would guest star as Jamie Porter in the penultimate episode of the second season.
Production on the first season began on February 15, 2019, in Salt Lake City, Utah, and concluded on June 30. Production on the second season commenced in February 2020 but was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Filming had resumed by November 2020.
The mockumentary style of the series is achieved through the single-camera setup, with handheld cameras used to create shaky footage and zooming. In addition, talking heads are utilized to allow characters to express their inner thoughts while talking to the camera. These scenes represent the "present-day" in the story, while flashbacks to Nini and Ricky's past relationship are filmed more traditionally.
The first season contains nine original songs, with one new piece of music featured in each of the first nine episodes. The majority of songs are performed live by the actors. Some actors accompanied their own performances on instruments such as the guitar. Rodrigo wrote an original song for the series, "All I Want", and co-wrote "Just for a Moment" with Bassett and music producer Dan Book. Federle stated that his original pitch included the idea of developing original songs for the series. Steve Vincent, who worked on the original films, served as the musical supervisor for the series and sourced several composers to write new music. He also received submissions from songwriters based in Los Angeles. The soundtrack for the first season, featuring new songs and renditions of songs from the original film, was released on January 10, 2020, by Walt Disney Records. In the lead-up to the release, selected tracks were made available weekly to correlate with the episodes being released.
An album accompanying the holiday special, High School Musical: The Musical: The Holiday Special: The Soundtrack, was released on November 20, 2020, which includes Christmas music as well as selected songs as a preview of the second season. As well as both new songs and new versions of songs from the High School Musical franchise, the second season will feature songs from the Disney musical Beauty and the Beast, written by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, and Tim Rice. Bassett and Rodrigo both wrote original songs for the second season.
The first episode of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series was telecast on Disney Channel, ABC, and Freeform on November 8, 2019, ahead of its launch on the streaming service Disney+ on November 12, 2019, in 4K HDR. Episodes were released weekly rather than all at once. The first-season finale was released on January 10, 2020.
A 45-minute holiday special entitled High School Musical: The Musical: The Holiday Special, featuring the cast performing Christmas music, was released on December 11, 2020. The special featured previews of songs and scenes from the second season. The second season premiered on May 14, 2021. The season was originally planned to debut in 2020, but was delayed as a result of filming being halted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to the release of the second season, the complete first season aired a marathon viewing format on Disney Channel on May 8, 2021.
The preview simulcast of the first episode on November 8, 2019, was viewed by 2.03 million on ABC, in addition to 474,000 on Disney Channel and 293,000 during its Freeform airing. The broadcast received 2.8 million viewers in total.
The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 75% approval rating for the first season with an average rating of 7.38/10 based on 32 ratings. The website's critical consensus reads, "Though fans may find what they've been looking for in its nostalgic stylings, High School Musical: The Musical: The Series follows a little too closely in its predecessors steps to truly be the start of something new." Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned a score of 64 out of 100 based on 16 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Vinnie Mancuso of Collider described the series as "endearingly tongue-in-cheek". Kelly Lawler expressed that the series is a "love letter" to high school theater productions in a review for USA Today. Kendra Cleary of Hypable stated that the series captures the energy of the original movie while introducing a relatable set of characters that are not as stereotypical as Troy and Gabriella. However, Caroline Framke of Variety suggested that some elements of the program are too similar to the original movie's "two-dimensional" approach. Insider's Libby Torres said the series lacked the "infectious energy" of the original film and found the premise jarring. Mancuso objected to the mockumentary style of the series, noting that the format distracts from other humor in the episodes. /Film's Ethan Anderton noted the technique as inorganic and unnecessary. Conversely, Cleary listed the talking heads as one of her favourite aspect of the series. Daniel Toy of Tom's Guide indicated how the techniques help to avoid unfamiliarity with characters. In his Laughing Place blog, Alex Reif said the series was more aimed at adults than the original movies. Joel Keller of Decider suggested that viewing of the series does not require an understanding of the original franchise.
Shannon Miller of The A.V. Club praised the cast's talent, in particular Rodrigo and Bassett for their musical ability and "handling of dramatic material". Writing for Decider, Kayla Cobb stated that the two leads have significant romantic chemistry. Megan Peters of Comicbook.com praised Rodrigo for her portrayal of Nini's "cautious" personality, and Keller described her as "especially magnetic". Anderton also applauded the cast and suggested that the series does not feature the same "exaggerated acting style" as the source material. The show's choreography was commended, as well as Wylie for her dance capability. Toy described Rodriguez's comedic timing as Carlos as "impeccable". Anderton, Peters and Framke likened Kate Reinders's performance as the "overzealous" Miss Jenn to Kristin Chenoweth.
The series has been likened to Glee for its themes, as well as its combination of music and drama. Framke described the series as a "sweet and very silly version of Glee", and Peters noted similarities through its "quick cuts and quips". However, Miller stated that High School Musical uses music more as a literal than abstract element in the storyline. Cleary noted that the series is not a musical in itself, and that the songs appear organically, depicted through auditions and rehearsals.
Reviewing the music, Mancuso and Toy expressed interest in the program continuing to provide new songs in addition to the original movie's soundtrack. Cleary praised the "vibrant and nostalgic" score. Cobb commended the vocal abilities of the main cast and described Rodrigo as "an especially pronounced talent" with a sweet and sincere voice.
|Artios Awards||2021||Outstanding Achievement in Casting: Children's Pilot and Series (Live Action)||Julie Ashton||Nominated|||
|Directors Guild of America Award||2021||Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Children's Programs||Kabir Akhtar (for "Opening Night")||Nominated|||
|GLAAD Media Award||2020||Outstanding Kids & Family Programming||High School Musical: The Musical: The Series||Won[c]|||
|Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards||2020||Favorite Male TV Star||Joshua Bassett||Nominated|||
|2021||Favorite Female TV Star||Sofia Wylie||Nominated|||
|Favorite Kids' TV Show||High School Musical: The Musical: The Series||Nominated|
|Favorite Male TV Star||Joshua Bassett||Nominated|
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- The first special premiered on ABC-owned stations WTVD-TV Raleigh, KFSN-TV Fresno and KABC-TV Los Angeles, on December 14, 2019, before its release on Disney+ on December 20.
- Also awarded to The Bravest Knight.
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The Disney+ mockumentary musical drama
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The series' soundtrack contains a listing for Lucas Grabeel
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