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BWW Interview: Roman Banks & Dara Renée Dish on HSMTMTS Season 2!

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In the latest episode, Howie (Banks) makes a surprising move with Kourtney (Renée).

BWW Interview: Roman Banks & Dara Renée Dish on HSMTMTS Season 2!

Roman Banks and Dara Renée star in season two of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, and their journey is just beginning.

In the latest episode, Howie (Banks) makes a surprising move with Kourtney (Renée). The Wildcats are benched from rehearsal for a week, and tensions rise to the surface during Career Day. Big Red questions if Ashlyn understands his dreams; E.J. shocks his dad with a revelation; and Ricky and Nini visit an old haunt.

Roman Banks is an understudy for the characters of Evan, Jared and Connor in "Dear Evan Hansen" on Broadway, Banks made history in 2018 as being the first African-American to play Evan Hansen.

Reneé and her mother opened "Encouraging Youth to Dream" in Baltimore, Maryland, where Reneé trained and performed memorable roles in countless productions including "Annie," "West Side Story," "The Wiz," and "Grease." Most recently, she starred as Savannah in the Disney Channel Original Movie musical "Freaky Friday."

She's also been featured in a recurring role on the hit ABC series "black-ish" and a guest starring role on ABC's "The Kids Are Alright."

BroadwayWorld had the pleasure of sitting down with the two stars via email and chatting about Howie and Kourtney, their personal trajectories to HSMTMTS, and so much more.

Read the full interview below!


Tell me a little bit about yourself! What did it feel like to book HSMTMTS?

Dara: I grew up in Baltimore, Maryland where my Mom and I opened a performing arts studio for kids, this is where I found my passion for theatre. I always loved to study musicals and different character analysis. I love to write music, and I also enjoy writing scripts. Booking "High School Musical: The Musical: The Series" was more than a dream come true! I had auditioned at an open call for High School Musical 4 in 2015 and to actually now be a part of this iconic legacy is so mind blowing to me.

Roman: Hi! So I'm Roman Banks. I'm an actor/musician and I play Howie on season two of HSMTMTS. Oh my goodness...an absolute dream! The first season was so impactful and did so much for the cast. I was honored to get to join the well-oiled machine and also get to be part of a...universe? Can we say that now? Regardless, I was thrilled. Still am.

What are you most excited for coming up this season with each of your characters?

Dara: I'm really excited for people to see Kourtney's vulnerability this season. I love how Kourtney learns more about herself and allows herself to try new things without the fear of failure.

Roman: I'm really thrilled for the audience to see episode 208. It's a big one for me and for the show in general. Season two is all about how you grow with your circle and your people, and episode 208 is a real turning point for a lot of the relationships on the show. I'm excited for people to watch how Howie fits into that theme and how that affects his and Kourtney's relationship moving forward.

Could both of you tell me a little about your relationship to High School Musical? What's most exciting about getting to be a part of this show?

Roman: Oh wow. Well, Vanessa Hudgens was basically my first real confirmation that I like girls. That movie was huge for my generation! I remember watching it and everyone at school talking about it. Then the dances. It's like, you can't say, "We're all in this together" now without sounding ironic. That's its impact on the world. It's nuts.

The most exciting part about HSMTMTS is being on a show that somehow brought together multiple generation-defining talents. We're already seeing that play out in a huge way with Olivia Rodrigo and the success of SOUR, and we're not even through season two! Even before I joined the cast, I knew that this show is going to be the big "Where are they now?" show because in ten years the world is going to know these kids as superstars. The coolest part is I already know that they are. It's almost like a secret that more and more people keep slowly finding out. I love it.

Dara: I grew up watching all the High School Musical movies. I had the clothes, dolls and I knew all the choreography. It's actually funny, when I booked it, I asked Monique Coleman who played Taylor for her blessing and any tips. She not only was so supportive, but was also one of the sweetest people I could have asked advice from.

Give me your theatre kid credits. What were you doing in high school? Can you relate to your characters in that way?

Roman: Haha. Oh boy. I was Crow #2 my freshman year of high school in our spring production of "The Wizard of Oz" I was the Cat in the Hat in our fall production of Seussical my sophomore year. And I played Jean Valjean in our spring production of Les Misérables my senior year, etc. So yes, full-on musical theatre high schooler. And this show has truly been almost nostalgic in the strangest of ways?

Like, our final full cast day on set we were playing ninja? It's so real. That definitely helps me connect to Howie and the stakes that the rest of the characters face because in high school theatre the stakes are very, very high. It's the biggest thing going on in your life aside from your GPA. Everyone wants their moment. Everyone wants to play that one role. So it's just like high school all over again, and so fittingly. This show presents those stakes so beautifully and truthfully.

Dara: I've performed in various theatre productions such as Grease, Dreamgirls, Annie, The Wiz, Little Shop of Horrors, Pippn, and American Idiot.

In high school, I was a part of the Music Academy, where I participated in choir, jazz band, and piano. I also participated in drama productions that my performing arts high school put on.

Almost all the characters I've done, I've related to in some way. Even after we take that final bow, I always carry a piece of those characters with me.

What's the best part of being part of an ensemble like this one?

Dara: The best part of being in an ensemble like this one is being able to work with so many talented and kind people. From the cast to the crew, to the writers, they all continue to teach me something. Brilliant everyday, just by being themselves. Another great part is the viewers! They are so kind and they always find a way to brighten my day without even knowing it.

Roman: As much as these individuals are stars in their own right, they're also the sweetest of human beings. Liked genuine hugs on the first day human beings. Take you on a road trip human beings. Pay for your lunch human beings. So I just have so much respect for each of them both and off-screen. They don't owe me anything, but they still have extended their kindness to me in a way that made me feel like a real part of the show. I was so nervous to meet them all after the success of season one, but I had nothing to worry about. They're the angels of Hollywood.

Give me an overview of what exciting things we can expect coming from each of you in the future.

Dara: I have a new show coming out on Friday, August 13th, called "Disney's Magic Bake-Off" where me and my co-host, Issac Ryan Brown, host a competitive baking show for young bakers. It was so much fun being able to taste cakes all day!

Also, I will be performing in the "Disney Princess Remixed - An Ultimate Princess Celebration" on Friday, August 27 where I will be singing "Into The Unknown" from Disney's "Frozen 2" with the magnificent Frankie Rodriguez and "Almost There" from Disney's "Princess and the Frog" with the marvelous Ruth Righi and Izabela Rose. I'm also writing more music and trying to get a few producing credits under my belt.

Roman: You can certainly expect more music from me. Music is a huge passion of mine and I'm excited to be working on some things after taking an unprecedented break for a while. Hopefully, I can be sharing some of those things with the world soon! Everything else is in God's hands.


Photo Credit: Disney / Fred Hayes


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