In a tip of the Wildcat hat to fans of “High School Musical,” three television networks – ABC, Disney Channel and Freeform – will present the first episode of “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” for one night only, FRIDAY, NOV. 8 (8:00 p.m. EST), in advance of the series’ bow on the highly anticipated streaming service, Disney+ (launching Tuesday, Nov. 12).
Created and executive produced by Tim Federle, a screenwriter, novelist, librettist and self-described “musical theatre kid,” the series is marked by originality, relatability and a genuine reverence for the worldwide pop-culture sensation “High School Musical.” It begins another original, exciting story with both new and familiar songs and settings that both its longtime fans and new viewers can enjoy.
Starring an exciting, multitalented cast, the scripted Disney+ series introduces 10 main characters: Nini, Ricky, Gina, E.J., Ashlyn, Kourtney, Carlos, Big Red, Miss Jenn and Mr. Mazzara – a group of drama students and faculty members at East High, the Utah high school where the original “High School Musical” movie was filmed. Through the course of 10 episodes, these characters count down from auditions to opening night of their school’s first-ever production of “High School Musical: The Musical.” They have budding romances, faltering friendships, and harsh rivalries as they experience the transformative power that only high school theater can provide.
Ricky (Joshua Bassett) is a charismatic teen auditioning for the musical so he can win back the heart of ex-girlfriend Nini (Olivia Rodrigo), who has just returned from summer theater camp with a new boyfriend – and the same insecurities that keep her from owning the spotlight. Miss Jenn (Kate Reinders) is East High’s supremely spirited drama teacher, who’s convinced that musicals can be lifesavers; Gina (Sofia Wylie) is a transfer student and diehard theater kid with plenty of secrets; E.J. (Matt Cornett) is Nini’s new beau from camp, who sees life as a competition and Ricky as his No. 1 foe. Kourtney (Dara Reneé) is Nini’s best friend and a fashionista equally obsessed with makeup tutorials and feminism. Ashlyn (Julia Lester) is E.J.’s cousin and an aspiring songwriter; Carlos (Frankie A. Rodriguez) is the student choreographer who has already memorized his Tony Award® speech; and Big Red (Larry Saperstein) is Ricky’s best friend, a dude who can best be described as a spiritual descendant of Bill and Ted. Mr. Mazzara (Mark St. Cyr) is East High’s by-the-book S.T.E.M. teacher.
The series was created and is executive produced by Golden Globe® and Academy Award® nominee Tim Federle (“Ferdinand”) who also wrote the first episode. The first episode was directed by Tamra Davis. Oliver Goldstick, Tamra Davis and Emmy® Award-winning “High School Musical” executive producers Bill Borden and Barry Rosenbush also serve as executive producers of the first episode.
Filmed in Salt Lake City, Utah, the high school serves as both the setting and film location for the original movie and the new series.