Almost a full year after Disney announced that a High School Musical TV project was in the works for its still-untitled streaming service, we finally have concrete details about the show — and trust us, it’s not what you were expecting. The 10-episode scripted series, titled High School Musical: The Musical, will be shot as a docuseries about a group of East High School students who put on a production of High School Musical, “only to realize that as much drama happens offstage as onstage.” (Note: This is separate from High School Musical 4, which is reportedly still in the works.)
Each episode of the TV series, which is being executive-produced by Tim Federle (Ferdinand) and Oliver Goldstick (Pretty Little Liars), will include one “new rendition” of a classic song from High School Musical, as well as one original song written specifically for the show. A breakdown of the show’s characters, currently being cast, is as follows:
RICKY | Described as a “snarky sweetheart” and a “B-minus student,” Ricky is desperate to win back his ex-girlfriend Nini, so he auditions to star alongside her in the musical. But Ricky’s well-crafted reputation as a class clown is merely his attempt at covering his greatest fear: that he’s not really good at anything and has only made it this far in life by coasting on his charm.
NINI | After finding her voice — and a new man — at summer camp, Nini dumps Ricky in favor of focusing on more important things. Nini is described as an “iron butterfly,” fiercely loyal to her two moms, even if those around her don’t see how strong she is. If you’re looking for Nini after school, she’s probably hurrying to finish her homework so she can watch American Idol or The Voice, followed by an hour-long shower where she’ll sing Ariana Grande’s entire catalogue.
E.J. | The son of two high-powered attorneys, this senior does whatever it takes to protect what’s “his,” including new girlfriend Nini. (He refers to Steve Jobs’ biography as his “bible,” which should tell you everything you need to know.) But behind E.J.’s confident facade is someone prone to anxiety attacks, thrown off course if even the slightest detail goes wrong.
ASHLYN | The new kid in school, E.J.’s cousin Ashlyn overcompensates for her insecurities by having a “mouthy attitude.” A devout worshipper of Sara Bareilles, she’s also politically minded (she never met a march she didn’t join) and invests a lot of her energy in things of a spiritual nature — horoscopes, meditation, palm-reading and all things “woo-woo.”
BIG RED | Ricky’s best friend, Big Red is described as the “spiritual cousin of both Bill and Ted.” He loved being Ricky and Nini’s third wheel, so he’s devastated by their breakup. (He’s also harbored a crush on Nini since middle school, presenting a “moral best-friend dilemma.”) Naturally, he gets involved with stage crew for the musical to get close to her.
GINA | A semi-professional (with an Equity card!), Gina doesn’t understand why she’s not the lead in the musical. Of course, this “entitled princess” is nothing compared to her lunatic stage mother. Not landing the lead is causing Gina to doubt her talent — which was already suffering, as she fears that she peaked in sixth grade.
VIKRAM | Pulling double duty as captain of the color guard and the musical’s student choreographer, Vikram already has his Tony Award acceptance speech written in his head. He sees the school’s drama teacher as more of a peer, eating her lunch her office. His biggest fear, naturally, is failure.
MISS JENN | East High’s new drama teacher is described as “high-energy and low-reality,” believing that musicals have the power to save lives. (Wait, do they not?) That said, her past is a little fuzzy, having moved home to Utah after leaving New York for “mysterious circumstances.” When she doesn’t get the $50,000 budget she requests from the school board, she enlists Vikram to launch a Kickstarter campaign.
Additional details — including a premiere date — are unavailable. Based on the above, what are your early thoughts on the long-awaited High School Musical TV series? Drop ’em in a comment below.