“High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” Review


Emma Frizzell

Remember that one movie that made your standards for high school incredibly unrealistic?

Remember that one movie that made your standards for high school incredibly unrealistic? It’s the one with Zac Efron dancing with a basketball in a gym. The one with teens dancing on the lunch tables singing about the status quo. The one with the most iconic dance number in the history of Disney Channel original movies, “We’re All In This Together.” The one that Disney+ recreated with an original series. For the past 10 weeks this show has been releasing a new episode each Friday, indulging “High School Musical” fans back into the franchise. 

“High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” is one of several Disney+ original series alongside “The Mandalorian” and “The World According to Jeff Goldblum.” Though a variety of opinions arose when the first trailer for the series released in August 2019, the show has proven itself to be more than just two colons separating an unnecessarily long title. 

“Before I started watching [the show], I thought it was going to be really stupid because in my opinion Disney has gone downhill,” Amanda Ralston, sophomore said. “I started watching it and it was a lot better than I thought it would be.” 

No, the series is not an exact replica of the beloved original movie. It is merely students from East High in Salt Lake City, Utah (for all of you non-High School Musical experts, that’s where the original movie was filmed) putting on a musical of High School Musical. So don’t worry-if you haven’t seen the originals, there won’t be many spoilers. This series takes on a completely different story line. 

You don’t even have to watch five minutes into the first episode to notice how socially and culturally different the show is from the movie. Viewers are able to see portrations of homosexuality, troubles at home and the overall reality of being in high school. The show does this by revealing a part of each of the character’s lives in the span of 10 episodes.

“I like how in the show they [show] more about every single person,” Jessie Beaumont, freshman, said. “Not just the two main characters in the [series].”

The plot of the story revolves around Ricky and Nini’s complicated relationship. The drama reveals Ricky’s fear of commitment from being surrounded by his parents weak relationship. Nini also comes to realize that she is too worried about what boys think of her, considering the fact that Ricky couldn’t say he loved her back. Sure the show focuses on Ricky and Nini, but it makes sure to shine light on characters who don’t have as much of the spotlight. 

Along with sharing some of the hardships the characters face, this series neglects the “status quo.” The first episode quickly depicts how diverse the main characters are. Sharpay has to be one of the most memorable characters from the original, and the series made sure to fill her shoes with someone who deserved it. Ms. Jen casts Seb, a boy who just wants to express who he really is. I must say, his pink eyeliner and rose gold blazer in the status quo number couldn’t remind me more of Sharpay. This series additionally has one of the most incredible portrayals of homosexuality I’ve ever seen in a series.

“I feel like it is definitely something new that’s up-and-coming in our community and culture right now,” Christopher Plants, sophomore said. “It definitely shows how the ‘High School Musical’ back then has changed.”

It is known that Nini’s two moms are in a gay relationship, and we even get to see the wonderful sight of Ricky in a “PRIDE SLC” shirt (honestly, the show is worth watching just to see him in that). In the beginning of the Homecoming episode, we see Carlos and Seb dancing to “Bop To The Top.” Carlos then asks Seb to the dance, and later gets disappointed when Seb fails to show up. It is revealed later in the episode that Carlos thinks that Seb is too scared to dance with him in public. I absolutely love how this show doesn’t neglect many of the issues society faces today, and portrays it in one of the best ways I’ve seen.

“Watching the old ones now there is a [obvious] cultural difference,” Ralston said. “[The original] was made over ten years ago, and this one is way more modern.”

Though the show is drastically different from the movie, there are definitely many elements from the original that make the 10 episodes just as iconic. While the students are auditioning for the musical, Ricky runs in late wanting to audition for Troy. In the original, Troy and Gabriella audition late, but still get the parts. Though it’s a small detail, it’s a very important one for true fans. Later on in the series, the whole cast performs a song and dance number in the cafeteria where “status quo” was shot. Viewers also get to see the new wildcats perform the musical in the gym, which only adds to the authentic “High School Musical” feel. While the building itself provides the most nostalgia for fans in the series, viewers do get blessed with a few cameos from our favorites. Kaycee Stroh, who played Martha Cox in the original (that girl who liked to pop, lock, jam, and break) made a surprise cameo in episode six, reciting her famous lines which made my year. Lucas Garbeel, who played Ryan Evans in the original shook me to my core in episode eight when he did a whole song and dance number with the new cast.

“High School Musical” has some of the best music that the Disney Channel original movies have to offer. “We’re All In This Together,” “Breaking Free,” “Status Quo” and many other iconic songs have landed themselves in the Disney Channel hall of fame. Before watching the Disney+ original, I had zero expectations for the soundtrack of a show with that long of a name. Boy, was I completely wrong. Not even ten minutes into the show did we get some of the best vocals I’ve heard from teenagers. Songs like, “I Think I Kinda You Know,” “Wondering” and “Just For A Moment” were on repeat in my head. About half of the overall playlist were songs written by the actual actors and actresses, and the rest were from the original movie. They did justice to the original music, their version of “Breaking Free” brought literal tears to my eyes. 

“At first it was a little weird [to hear the original music] because I’m so used to the old versions,” Plants said. “But it was kinda nice for the new show to have their own touch on it, to give a new beat to it and kind of refresh the music.” 

So don’t worry, the new cast didn’t butcher our favorite songs from the original. In fact, the music really made watching it feel like the early 2000s Disney Channel again. 

Though I had no idea what to expect from this ten part series when the trailer first came out, it exceeded any expectations I had for this new generation of wildcats. “High School Musical” has such a special place in a lot of people’s hearts, as it is part of some of our first memories. Watch this series for the nostalgia, the outstanding soundtrack, the angsty theatre kids and for the new era of Disney that is reinventing the status quo.