The Wildcats may be spending their summer at Camp Shallow Lake, but they quickly find themselves deep in drama. Because what else is knew.
Now streaming on Disney+, the third season premiere of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series sends a handful of East High’s finest — including new couple E.J. and Gina, plus Ashlyn, Kourtney and Carlos — to theater camp, where none other than CORBIN EFFING BLEU is set to direct them in the first-ever student production of Frozen.
Do things go south? Oh, my friends, almost immediately. For starters, Mr. Bleu reveals that he’s not actually there to direct the musical; he’s there to direct a documentary for Disney+ about the making of the musical.
“It’s definitely crazy meta, and we play with that a lot,” showrunner Tim Federle tells TVLine. “Is it too meta? Only the fans will tell us. The season, as it goes along, gets campier and juicier.”
Speaking of things getting juicy, Ricky discovers his Beast harness in Lily’s closet, finally exposing his new girlfriend as the show’s saboteur. With betrayal on his brain and a song in his heart, Ricky has no choice but to join his friends at camp. When asked about the potential E.J./Gina/Ricky love triangle fans noticed in the trailer, Federle suggests that we approach this season with a wait-and-see attitude.
“You always want all of the fans to be happy, and you want to tell the story that the writers’ room and Disney and the cast is most excited about telling,” he says. “The joy of getting a Season 4 [which was officially ordered in May] is that the stories get to be really soap opera’d out. There’s a long way to go with all of these characters. I hope everyone is patient and kind and enjoys watching these incredible performers play these scenes that stretch them as actors in a lot of ways.”
Which brings us to Nini, who won’t be joining her classmates at camp this summer. In addition to writing new music for Gina’s brother, Olivia Rodrigo’s character is hitting the open road with her moms, a move that triggers what could be her farewell storyline.
“[Olivia is] very busy now, I’m sure it’s hard to believe,” Federle jokes. “But she was so gracious and awesome. There’s this new song she sings that I love. I think it’s very emotional and a real summary of her experience on the show, and also a promise of where all these characters and cast mates are going this season.” (In a separate interview with Entertainment Tonight, Federle refers to Season 3 as a “proper sendoff” for Rodrigo.)
But even with its inherent drama, Federele believes this is a “season about sisterhood,” hence his decision to have the characters perform Frozen, adding, “Not enough is said about camaraderie and sisterhood among young women, who the media often tries to pit against each other.”
Your thoughts on Season 3 thus far? Grade the premiere, then drop a comment with your hopes for the summer below.