Disney Plus Debuts “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series”

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Danielle Abril, Opinion Editor

Disney Channel’s “High School Musical” is still one of the most celebrated Disney Channel Original Movies almost 13 years after its debut. The musical, along with its sequels “High School Musical 2” and “High School Musical 3: Senior Year” are still viewed regularly, and the soundtracks are continuously downloaded into many music libraries.

“High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” released season one’s first episode to ABC, Freeform and Disney Channel on Nov. 8, as a teaser for the rest of the season, which can only be viewed on Disney’s new streaming service, Disney+. Since the debut of Disney+ on Nov. 12, five more episodes have been released. 

When a group of students attending the same school and filming location of the East High Wildcats gets cast into a production of High School Musical, chaos begins in Salt Lake City. This teenage drama follows Nini (Olivia Rodrigo) as she battles through a love triangle with ex-boyfriend Ricky (Joshua Bassett) and current boyfriend E.J. (Matt Cornett), as well as trying to keep up with Gina (Sofia Wylie) who is a stand out dancer auditioning for the lead role.

Drama Teacher Miss Jenn (Kate Reinders) holds open call auditions to cast the musical, and when Nini beats out Gina for the female lead and Ricky—who only auditions to show Nini he still loves her—beats out E.J. for the male lead, the East High Leopards are shaken up. 

One step being taken to differentiate the story lines from the original movie is the real mascot of the actual East High: a leopard. In addition, the original “High School Musical” reminds viewers that it is okay to break the social norms, while “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” touches upon how production choreographer Carlos (Frankie Rodriguez) used to be an outcast, but has been met with 16 new friends from the cast that stick together because they are all weird in the same way. This new series also stands out from others for its progressive concepts that the originals lacked. For example,  Nini has two mothers, and male student Seb (Joe Sarafini) auditions and is casted for the female role of Sharpay. 

Throughout each episode, there is at least one cover of a song from the original movie and up to two new songs sung by the new cast members. Although hearing fan favorites being sung with primarily unrecognizable voices, this cast is extremely talented and musically inclined. Almost all of them can sing and dance, and most of them can also play one or two musical instruments. The writers and the producers have even allowed Olivia Rodrigo to write a song for her character, which debuted in episode four under the title “All I Want” during one of Nini’s greatest conflicts thus far. 

Although high school does not last forever, this Disney Channel Original seems to.  Before the first episode even premiered, “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series”  was already picked up for a second season. Grab some crème brûlée and control the pop, lock, jam and break for four more episodes of season one, and whatever season two has in store.