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Student Blog: I Guess I Should Watch High School Musical The Musical The Series

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Question: How did these kids compose, arrange, choreograph, rehearse, and execute this number overnight?

I am the target audience for Disney+'s "High School Musical The Musical The Series." I'm a musical theatre major, participated in the high school theatre, and repeatedly watched the behind-the-scenes dance tutorials on the original High School Musical DVD when I was seven years old- but I still haven't watched the series completely. I've caught two or three episodes here and there, and clips on social media, but now it's time to really dig in, and I wanted to put my whole experience on record.

I ended up writing six pages on this season, but just for BroadwayWorld, I have paired it down a bit. These are all snippets of my stream of consciousness while experiencing the show for the first time.

Season 1 Spoilers Ahead!

Pre-Watch

I'm ready to see Olivia Rodrigo rock this series. I'm watching this post-SOUR release, so I'm already familiar with Rodrigo dating and breaking up with co-star Joshua Bassett. I expect strong dancing, unrealistic high school theatre budgets, and high levels of teen angst.

S1 E1: The Auditions

Favorite Quote: " [The show] Would not cost too much money." This has never been said out loud by a theatre educator, ever.

Question: Why would Miss Jenn type Gina as Gabriela? Isn't Gabriela a non-dancing role?

Cast/Character Thoughts: I saw Kate Reinders in Something Rotten! in 2016, and I'm so glad to see her in this show. Her Something Rotten character, Portia, reminds me a bit of Miss Jenn. I'm obsessed with the idea of the popular jock being on the Water Polo Team.

S1 E2: The Read-Through

Favorite Quote: Just the sound of Ricky doing pullbacks on the library carpet. That's it. That was my favorite line in the episode.

Question: Why does every TV/movie theatre department storage area have a fake camel?

Cast/Character Thoughts: EJ's casting-related fury is totally valid. My senior year, I was cast as Cogsworth in Beauty and the Beast (see photo) after sacrificing YEARS of my life to that theatre program.

Student Blog: I Guess I Should Watch High School Musical The Musical The Series
Photo by Valerie Evans
Costume Design by Chasity Taylor

Nini has gay parents, and so did Rachael Berry. I'm seeing a trend. I was hoping the special prop was going to be Sharpay's bedazzled microphone. Disappointed.

S1 E3: The Wonderstudies

Favorite Quote: [Gina demonstrates choreography] "But you start on the left foot." That sounded so much like my Jazz I teacher from freshman year of college. The syllabus for that course said "beginner jazz technique," but I think it was one of the most challenging dance classes I've ever taken.

Question: How is one able to dribble and pirouette at the same time? I kinda wanna try that...

Cast/Character Thoughts: How many times a day are these kids in rehearsal? Do they go to class or do they just hang out in the library and stairwell? It irks me when people call a show or a musical a play. "You're the lead in the play." No! There's singing! It's a musical! (Que Something Rotten! soundtrack.)

S1 E4: Blocking

Favorite Quote: "Break a leg." "What did my leg ever do to you?"

Questions: Does Big Red have a real name? Why does everyone have their ringer on? I heard camera clicks, the lock sound, and send/receive tones in every episode, but I can't name one high schooler who has their phone ringer on.

Cast/Character Thoughts: Come on Nini with your 2-inch T-Strap character shoes! I didn't get on the T-Strap train until the end of my junior year of high school, so Nini is already months ahead of me when I was that age. I've noticed that none of the other musical numbers have transitioned into a fantasy-type sequence like Nini's audition did. Her audition fantasy with the red dress and stage lights was stunning, and I think there is potential for other numbers in the series to mirror this.

S1E5: Homecoming

Favorite Quote: "Don't be intimidated. Be inspired."

Questions: Is Ashlyn the only character with a moral compass or shred of empathy?

Cast/Character Thoughts: The homecoming dance and karaoke became a fantasy sequence suddenly, but also made me wonder if Carlos' homecoming dance with himself could be classified as a dream ballet? While the number does include singing, it meets all other qualifications of a dream ballet: it reflects the themes of the show and demonstrates a character's thoughts and feelings through dance.

S1E6: What Team?

Favorite Quote: "She stands for truth, justice, and songs in our key."

Question: How did these kids compose, arrange, choreograph, rehearse, and execute this number overnight?

Cast/Character Thoughts: Gina should have stepped in to direct. She knows the work and knows how to get work done. MARTHA IS ON THE SCHOOL BOARD? I love a good cameo.

S1E7: Thanksgiving

Favorite Quote: The entire board game scene. So wholesome and a wonderful reminder of the power of theatre kid joy.

Question: While people are dealing with parent trouble and other challenges, EJ is crying over lost followers? Is his whole character just about being popular?

Cast/Character Thoughts: I want an Ashlyn spin-off show. The HSM board game! It reminds me of when I would decorate random things in my bedroom with stick-on gems to look like they belong to Sharpay. Miss Jenn fixing the robot reminds me of getting alignment critiques in Ballet. Concluded the episode with arson. Excellent.

S1E8: The Tech Rehearsal

Favorite Quote: "Do you know how to hang a light?" "I know how to hang...out." ME when I got my tech job and the ATD was trying to get me to loosen lights and I was so lost.

"Is Kenny Ortega here??"

"I'm more of a Glinda" Did Kate Reiners (Miss Jenn) play Glinda? Update- she did in 2006!

Question: Why are the kids on the scene of the fire so soon? Isn't that dangerous?

Cast/Character Thoughts: I haven't seen this show, but I KNOW Nini and Ricky are gonna get stuck in this little side room they went to rehearse.

I feel like the Lucas Gabreel scene, song, and sequence were really forced. These last few episodes have felt really disjointed and disconnected.

S1E9: Opening Night

Favorite Quote: "I might as well save the show too."

Question: So are they getting ready backstage of the theater? That burnt down?

Cast/Character Thoughts: I do think EJ should have played Troy the whole time. He has the experience and the professionalism. Kourtney is getting more professional world experience by learning a role the day of.

WAIT is there gonna be a fly fail and that's why EJ goes on?

Very true to the original HSM, I think Seb should/is gonna get the school offer.

They did the lobby light dim and I teared up. I miss the theatre.

S1 E10: Act Two

Favorite Quote: "Count your blessings and dance your heart out."

"Usually the theatre kids cry, and then we go to Denny's."

Question: Big Red III still doesn't have a first name?

Cast/Character Thoughts: If I was at this show, I would be close to demanding a refund this show is atrocious. The ensemble is excellent, and the leads are the ones screwing up. My other prediction is that Gina will get the acting school offer, and the boarding school will fix the moving around problem.

Final Thoughts

I would have liked to see more musical numbers in each episode. The cast is massively talented and could have exceeded the high level of production value Glee set. If this show included more original songs and musical numbers, I could see a chart-topping album coming out of it. I'm not rushing to watch the next season, but I do applaud the creative team for creating something that is an authentic reflection of high school theatre.


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