High School Musical is back … ish. The new Disney+ series, set to launch Tuesday, November 12, may have the title of the 2006 movie in its title, but don’t call it a remake. In fact, High School Musical: The Musical — The Series isn’t anything like the movies at all.
“For someone whose musicals saved their life growing up as a middle schooler, I appreciate anything that’s like, ‘Hey kids it’s cool to sing and dance,’” executive producer Tim Federle told Us Weekly exclusively at a junket for the series. “It was meaningful for me to know that it was out there, but it also meant that I got to approach it not feeling like I had to remake it. In fact, I didn’t want to remake it, because why remake Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens? They’re perfect as they are.”
Instead, the mockumentary will take place at East High School, where the High School Musical movies were filmed. When Miss Jenn (Kate Reinders), a former background cast member becomes the new drama teacher, she decides the winter production should be of High School Musical: The Musical. The show follows the lives of the students who are cast, shining a light on the messy love stories, friendships and other struggles of high school.
“I wanted this sort of irreverent take that always winked and poked fun but never made fun of the original,” the Ferdinand writer continued.
Joshua Bassett, who leads the series as popular high school student Ricky, also noted that the script was the perfect reiteration of the popular story.
“I think, like a lot of the fans of the originals, I was really protective. When I first heard about the concept I was like, ‘OK, what are they doing here?’ But once I read the script I was sold from then on out and absolutely fell in love with it,” Bassett, 19, told Us. “The way it’s done is so brilliant and it’s its own independent thing. It pays tribute to the original but can live in its own universe. The way they did it is genius. Old fans are going to love it and there are going to be brand new fans and the age spectrum literally runs the whole gamut.”
Scroll through the gallery below to meet the rest of the cast and learn more about their characters.