High School Musical TV Series: 5 Ways It Nods To The The Original (& 5 Ways It’s Totally New)

Disney finally debuted a trailer for High School Musical: The Musical: The Series at the D23 Expo. This web television series is bringing the magic of High School Musical to a new generation and is set to premiere via the Disney+ streaming service on Nov. 12. While there are many ways this new series makes reference to the Disney Channel Original Movie that brought sports, smarts, and music together, it isn’t a direct sequel — and because of that, there are also many ways it’s set to stand on its own.

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Based on everything we know so far, here is what relates the upcoming High School Musical series to the original film as well as the things that make it unique.

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10 ORIGINAL: East High

Yes, you read that right. All the drama — songs — and action are set to take place at the same high school where it all started. East High is once again taking the spotlight, and the trailer shows glimpses of the cafeteria, gym, stage, and lockers all familiar to the original film.

This time around, though, East High is referred to as “The high school where High School Musical was shot.” That means that in this new narrative, the events of the High School Musical movie never really happened and East High was simply the set it was performed upon.

9 NEW: Mockumentary

As we just discussed, the new series implies that High School Musical was a movie and not real life. How does the TV show take this angle? Well, by taking on the format of a mockumentary, of course.

If you’ve seen The Office, Parks and Recreation, or Modern Family, you know what a mockumentary looks like. It’s a style of show in which the characters talk to the camera like they’re part of a documentary, even though we, the viewers, know it’s artificial. This setup will be what fuels the plot.

8 ORIGINAL: Troy and Gabriella

No, Zac Efron isn’t showing up on set (at least not that we know of). However, his and Vanessa Hudgen’s characters still play a large role in the series.

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The students of the “real” East High want to stage a production of High School Musical at their own school. Of course, the starring characters of this production are Troy and Gabriella, and the trailer has the new high schoolers voicing their excitement over the roles of these high schoolers.

7 NEW: Characters

As mentioned, the only way to stage a production of High School Musical is with a whole new set of characters. Joshua Bassett, Matt Cornett, and Olivia Rodrigo are set to star in the series. Though few details on their characters have been revealed, we can infer that Cornett’s E.J. is a jock and that Bassett’s Ricky and Olivia’s Nini seem to really love music and theatre.

We can also tell that Frankie Rodriguez’s character Carlos really loves the High School Musical movie and believes he belongs on Broadway.


As should be expected by the plot, many of the original songs from High School Musical will be featured in the new web series.

However, the songs have been re-recorded by the new characters and updated to fit the story. “Stick to the Status Quo” can be heard during the first trailer, and we're betting more of the film's biggest hits are yet to come.

5 NEW: Songs

You can’t create a new musical TV show without adding in some fresh songs as well. All ten episodes of the High School Musical TV series are set to feature one re-done song from the original as well as one new never-before-heard song.

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This will help the series develop into its own thing while remaining true to its roots.

4 ORIGINAL: Basketball

Sure, we don’t know how relevant the centralized sport of the original High School Musical movies will be in the new rendition. That being said, you can’t really have High School Musical without basketball.

While it’s not explicitly stated that E.J. is a basketball player, he can be spotted wearing a Wildcats jersey and varsity jacket throughout the trailer. It’s possible he’s only wearing the jersey to audition for the role of Troy in his school's musical, though the amount of times he can be seen wearing it seems to imply he’s on his school's actual team.

3 NEW: Relevant Humor

The first High School Musical TV series trailer quickly makes a joke about millennials: a buzzword that just wasn’t used when the original film came out in 2006. The preview also isn’t afraid to make a joke about a male high schooler who would rather play Sharpay than Ryan. Did we neglect to mention that there’s some bleeped-out cursing in the trailer? One girl announces into her headset, “Buckle up, Wildcats. [BLEEP] is about to get real.

It’s Disney. Things can’t get too edgy, but the writers definitely seem to be pushing the limits of the G-rated High School Musical 3: Senior Year we were last left with.

2 ORIGINAL: Giant Musical Numbers

Perhaps the most important element the High School Musical franchise needs to jump from movies to a TV show is the giant musical numbers.

We already discussed all the new and original songs that will be brought back, but the actors aren’t just going to stand still and recite them; They’re going to break out into crazy dance numbers, pull out some props, and let us know they mean business. That's half of what made the original movies so entertaining.

1 NEW: Plot

We already covered the whole real-East-High-putting-on-a-musical thing, but that’s not the entire story. While there are still scarce details about the drama that will happen off the stage, it’s been hinted that there will be lots of romantic tension.

The trailer reveals that Nini and Ricky were dating… until he broke things off. While Nini gets a new boyfriend, it seems that the ex-lovers roles in the High School Musical stage production will force them to spend time together. Just imagine all the plot potential that lies in that.

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