A decade after High School Musical 3: Senior Year, the Disney Channel original is returning to the small screen for a limited series. But with a bit of a twist.
Set to air on the upcoming Disney streaming service, the High School Musical series is starting to take shape. Slated for a limited run of 10 episodes, the series will be called High School Musical: The Musical. If that sounds somewhat meta, that’s because it is.
It will be shot in a docu-series style, according to Variety, and is set to follow a group of students at East High, who are putting on the show as their winter theater production. And audiences should expect as much drama to happen off-stage as it does on, in true high school fashion.
Each episode will feature a song from the original High School Musical movie, as well as at least one new original song. Casting has already begun on the series.
Oliver Goldstick (Pretty Little Liars, Ugly Betty) will serve as executive producer, with Tim Federle serving as writer and executive producer.
Character descriptions have also been released, via Variety, which gives more of an idea of the cast that we will meet. (RIP, Ms. Darbus.)
RICKY – A snarky sweetheart, a B-minus student, and our star. Ricky’s been dating fellow junior Nini for a year. When she unexpectedly breaks up with Ricky, he launches a bold plan to get Nini back — by auditioning to star opposite her in the school’s production of HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL. Ricky’s class-clowning covers a deep fear that he’s not actually great at anything, except coasting by on charm. Constantly attempting get-rich-quick schemes with best friend and fellow skater Big Red. Stays up too late bingeing GoPro stunt videos on YouTube. Voted “Most likely to sleep through his alarm.”
NINI – The other star. Formerly relegated to the chorus of her school’s musicals, Nini just got back from summer camp, where she found her voice – and confidence — playing the lead in THE MUSIC MAN. Unfortunately, Nini also found a new boyfriend at camp. Drama. Fiercely loyal to her two moms, she’s stronger than she first appears: an iron butterfly. Never misses AMERICAN IDOL and THE VOICE (only after doing her homework, natch) and takes hour-long showers to sing Ariana Grande’s entire catalogue. Voted “Most likely to have a HAMILTON lyric as her senior quote.”
E.J. – Nini’s new love interest, the type of ambitious entrepre-nerd who brings homemade props to auditions. Don’t cross E.J. if you get something he wants — like a starring role, opposite “his” girl Nini. The son of two high-powered corporate attorneys, E.J. is supremely confident but secretly prone to anxiety attacks when anything goes off-plan. A future producer more than an actor, E.J. calls the Steve Jobs biography his “bible” and keeps a copy on his nightstand. Voted “Most likely to report another student for cheating on a test.”
ASHLYN – Brash and gutsy, Ashlyn’s mouthy attitude covers “new kid” self-doubt. A slightly woo-woo horoscope reader, she’s finding her place in the school hierarchy. Or trying to. (It helps that her cousin E.J. is a senior.) Worships Sara Bareilles and is an aspiring songwriter on the sly. Can’t wait till she’s old enough to vote, and she’ll march and protest in the meantime. Whether she’s cast in the musical or not, she’s got her eye on student council. Her most-used app is Headspace, for meditation (and because of her crush on the disembodied Buddha voice). Voted “Most likely to read your palm.”
BIG RED – Ricky’s lifelong wingman. A skate rat, Big Red is the spiritual cousin of both Bill and Ted: always fuzzy, he’s been sleep-deprived since preschool. Big Red is weirdly devastated by Ricky and Nini’s breakup — his surest role is as their wisecracking third wheel. He has secretly crushed on Nini since middle school, and her breakup with Ricky proves a moral best-friend dilemma. He joins the backstage crew to be “Nini-adjacent.” Wants to start a garage band, but keeps forgetting to learn an instrument. He’s addicted to true crime podcasts and THE WALKING DEAD, and yet he’s afraid of the dark. Voted “Most likely to believe aliens are real, bruh.”
GINA – Don’t call her an understudy, call her a “wonderstudy.” A polished pro with an Equity card and the unwavering belief that the drama teacher made a HUGE mistake not casting her as a lead. Gina is an entitled princess, but her ambition pales in comparison with her stage mother’s. Gina worries that she peaked in 6th grade, when she starred in a Canadian tour of ANNIE. Posts Instagram videos of her singing that go viral — and makes Nini seriously start to doubt her own talent. Voted “Most likely to push you down a flight of stairs.”
VIKRAM – Captain of the color guard and the student choreographer of HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL. Beyoncé is his iPhone lockscreen wallpaper, and he already has his Tony Award for Best Choreography speech written out. Vikram thinks of the drama teacher as a peer — he eats lunch in her office, and has been drinking espresso since 3rd grade. All of this, even though Vikram still sleeps with a stuffed elephant, and is terrified of failure. His most-used app is Starbucks. Voted “Most likely to stage a flash mob on a field trip.”
MISS JENN – The school’s new drama teacher, Miss Jenn is high-energy and low-reality. She truly believes musicals can save lives. If only she believed in telling the truth on her résumé. She’s moved back home to Utah after she left New York under mysterious circumstances, packing up in a hurry. Forces student choreographer Vikram to do a Kickstarter for the musical when the school board won’t give her the $50,000 budget she asks for. Suffers serious imposter syndrome and would ultimately do anything for these kids. Her most-used (and most-loathed) app is Tinder.
No release date has been set by Disney, but hopefully we’ll start to get some casting announcements soon.