High School Musical Makes a Comeback

Is the new “High School Musical” just as good as the original?

November 22, 2019


The new logo design replicates the original “High School Musical.” (Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons)

When The Walt Disney Company dropped a trailer in August for a “High School Musical” reboot to be released alongside their new streaming service, Disney Plus (Disney+), I was beyond ecstatic ‒ and I can guarantee I was not the only one. Every single teenage soul who grew up watching all three original movies was shaking in their boots. We thought it was over at three. But we thought wrong.


The remake is about the students of East High School, where the original movie was filmed in Salt Lake City, Utah. When the new drama teacher, Miss Jenn (played by Kate Reinders), enters the scene, she is eager to have the students stage a musical production of “High School Musical” – something never done before at the school. The plot centers around the auditions with rising conflicts and relationship drama intertwined into it.


With a sneak peek of the new Gabriella Montez and Troy Bolton in the official trailer, fans began to voice diverse opinions. “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.” What is up with all those colons? Why is it now a television series? Are these new actors and actresses really suitable to take on these iconic roles? When Disney tweeted to announce the release, haters implied that maybe these new amateurs would not be up to par with Zac Efron or Vanessa Hudgens. They explicitly labeled the remake, “trash.”


As a loyal “High School Musical” fan, I decided to wait until after I had seen an episode or two of the new series to make any kind of judgment. After all, this new cast deserves a chance. So when Disney+ dropped on Tuesday, Nov. 12, I immediately logged on to view the first episode. 


I will not lie; the original seems better. First, to open the scene, Miss Jenn made an entrance that was by no means comparable to the original Sharpay Evans’ (Ashley Tisdale) classic strut through the halls. Second, the relationship between lead roles Nini Salazar-Roberts (played by Olivia Rodriguez) and Ricky Bowen (played by Joshua Bennet) is definitely not as dreamy as the original power couple. And third, the actual mascot of East High School is a leopard, not a wildcat. Totally weird but besides the point.


The point is, everything about the original power couple was a dream. One does not usually see a multitude of Troy Boltons strolling through the halls at an average high school or Gabriella Montez replicas walking hand-in-hand alongside them. Their ideal relationship is just too good to be true. 


“High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” is now available on Disney Plus.

But Nini and Ricky’s relationship? It seems real. There is something about their cringe love-confession and pout-worthy break-up that makes the audience grin at both the absurdity and cuteness of this musical within a musical. Ricky’s attempt to win Nini back is awkward, but it is also adorable. One cannot help but fall in love with the way Ricky bashfully sings a love-song for his ex-girlfriend while strumming softly – but passionately – on a guitar. 


An obvious love triangle develops with the entrance of senior E.J. Caswell (played by Matt Cornett), and it makes for a clever but cliche way to latch the audience on to the series. As Nini’s new and overprotective boyfriend who is athletic, musically-talented and older, E.J. is a lot for Ricky to compete with. But that does not stop him from snagging the role of Troy Bolton from right under this senior’s nose. 


With Nini casted as Gabriella in East High School’s musical production, the two exes face tensions and an evident longing to be back together. But it is too early on in the series to make certain of whether they will get together or not. And with E.J.’s seemingly perfect persona, fans are beginning to team up on either Team E.J. or Team Ricky.


For me? I am pretty neutral for now. But if Ricky keeps up his adorable singing attempts, it will be pretty clear which team I will join. I look forward to hearing this new cast cover the original songs.


Overall, one thing is clear. Though this reboot may not resonate as deeply with me as the original trio did, it is a sweet attempt from Disney to satisfy the fans’ cravings for more “High School Musical.”


After all, it is about time we resurrected these old roles and lifted those red curtains for callbacks.


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