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Review: It's Back To Basics For Season Two of 'High School Musical: The Musical: The Series'

by JC Alvarez
Friday May 14, 2021
'High School Musical: The Musical: The Series' returns for Season Two
'High School Musical: The Musical: The Series' returns for Season Two  (Source:Disney+)

It's back to basics for the cast of the Disney+ original series "High School Musical; The Musical: The Series," Season Two." After last semester's wildly popular staging of "High School Musical: The Musical" (the original Disney film adapted to the stage), the students at East High School have to take it up a notch. For this season's musical offering, Miss Jenn (Kate Reindeers) decides her drama students must blow out all expectations, and she decides to stage an inspired remake of another Disney classic, "Beauty and the Beast."

Competition is fierce, but Nini (Olivia Rodrigo) is out of the casting race since she is attending drama school in her pursuit of stardom. Although she's reconnected with her on-screen beau Ricky (Joshua Bassett), his confidence has been undermined now that his girl is in the "long distance" category. As everyone vies for a role in the new show, Gina (Sofia Wylie) is determined to make this her year, and finds Kourtney (Dara Renee) and Ashlyn (Julia Lester) as rivals in her pursuit for the lead.

The premise of the show (which also helped launch the Disney+ subscriber service) is interesting enough. "High School Musical" was a brand-buster that made household names of its adolescent stars and followed the hijinks of the popular kids through impromptu music and dance. And this television version plays on that brand recognition as a the high school in the original film is used as backdrop when a teacher thinks it would be ironic to stage the original film's musical.

In the first episode, "New Year's Eve," the students realize that there is more beyond just the confines of their high school campus. Episode Two of the season is aptly entitled "Typecasting," as everyone is slotted into their roles in "Beauty and the Beast." Nini feels the pangs of being left out, and starts to rethink her dramatic aspirations, but there might be someone in the mix that is waiting to shake things up. Lily, played by Olivia Rose Keegan, is the "new girl," and she's after the coveted lead role — but she's not fitting into the squeaky clean scheme of things, and is dealt a hard lesson.

"High School Musical: The Musical; The Series" is charming enough, and a very cool spin on the format. The cast are incredibly talented and nimble, and are already showing signs of pushing beyond the boundaries of the show. Olivia Rodrigo has a solo album on the horizon, and her onscreen paramour, Joshua Bassett, is entering into heartthrob territory, so clearly the series' impact is being felt across all popular culture. This is a good opportunity to dive in and get to know this class, especially as they all march onto the pop charts and inspire the next pop boom.

"High School Musical: The Musical: The Series" returns to Disney+ for Season Two on Friday, May 14.

Native New Yorker JC Alvarez is a pop-culture enthusiast and the nightlife chronicler of the club scene and its celebrity denizens from coast-to-coast. He is the on-air host of the nationally syndicated radio show "Out Loud & Live!" and is also on the panel of the local-access talk show "Talking About".

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