Okay, so Disney unleashed a ton of information about new content for their Disney + streaming platform at the recent D23 event and while I wrap my head around the announcements, one thing that stuck with me was the revival of the High School Musical franchise via High School Musical: The Series.
I was initially iffy about the idea but as it turns out, the series is not a reboot of the franchise that catapulted to Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens to superstardom. Rather, its a meta take on the phenomenon that was High School Musical. The series will revolve around the “real” East High and its students, where the new principal hatches up a plan to stage a High School Musical production for the school’s latest play.
Growing up on the music and choreography of the movie, Nini (Olivia Rodrigo) auditions for the role of Gabriella while her ex boyfriend Ricky (Joshua Bassett) tries to win her back by auditioning for the play too. Unfortunately, Nini is already dating basketball star EJ (Matt Cornett) who seems to be taking part in the production as well.
There’s bound to be plenty of drama to fill 10 full episodes with the love triangle, the popular kids, the hilarious teaching staff and the wannabe actors who want in on the High School Musical production. There’s also the treat of the soundtrack of the original movie being used in addition to new songs that the series is bound to introduce. Its bound to be an interesting content for light viewing.
I think the good thing about the meta approach to High School Musical‘s success was a great idea on the part of Disney. The fact that Disney also acknowledges the relative lack of success of the sequels in a line from one of the wannabes is also a positive sign that the show is not taking itself too seriously.
This means that there is an active effort to spare the new cast from comparison to their predecessors, and Disney is giving them the opportunity court audiences’ favor if they turn up strong performances.
They do already have a head start. The cast looks amazing, cute and likeable — three things off the bat that will win the hearts of tweens and millenials. The production has the same feel as the original as well. However, whether it will reach the bar of the original directed by Kenny Ortega remains to be seen. I must come clean though, that I actually didn’t like the movie as a whole but I was a big fan of the music and the production.
All in all, I think High School Musical: The Series has a huge potential to be a hit. Its going through the revival of the franchise in the right way. It has a level of self awareness that keeps it from going overboard, and its not setting its sights on surpassing the success of the original. Its merely borrowing some luster from its success to jumpstart the continuation of the franchise in a new platform.