When news came out that a TV show adaptation of the original “High School Musical” was airing on Disney+, I was beyond excited. I grew up watching the movie series and was intrigued to see a more recent adaptation.
Based on its first season, “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” (HSMTMTS) is a separate show that is not an extension of the original “High School Musical” movie series. The show’s main characters are drama students who attend the same high school as the original, East High School, which is located in Salt Lake City, Utah. However, it has an entirely different plot with different characters.
The first season’s plot was about a new drama teacher at East High School, Miss Jen (Kate Reinders), producing a musical of “High School Musical.” We are introduced to the main characters— Nini Salazar-Roberts, Ricky Bowen, E.J. Caswell, Gina Porter, Big Red, Ashlyn Caswell, Kourtney Greene, Carlos Rodriguez and Miss Jen— and see their lives progress from auditions to opening night.
In season 2, there is a competition between East High School and rival school North High School. Both schools decide to perform a production of “Beauty and the Beast,” while also competing in the Menkies— also known as the Alan Menken Awards— a fictional award of excellence for high school theater productions.
*There are spoilers beyond this point*
In the first episode, Nini (Olivia Rodrigo) reveals to her boyfriend Ricky (Joshua Bassett) that she will be moving to Denver to attend the Youth Actors Conservatory School. They don’t seem to adapt well with being in a long distance relationship.
I loved seeing Nini’s character development and her newfound independence from Ricky, especially when she started posting her music on social media and going by Nina rather than Nini.
Nini’s ex-boyfriend E.J (Matt Cornett) and Gina (Sofia Wylie) also grow closer and eventually start a relationship. I liked seeing their characters interact more and start liking each other because I predicted they would end up together during the first season.
I also liked how other characters were given a chance to play the leads this season. Through “Beauty and the Beast” Ashlyn becomes the lead, playing Belle. In the first season, Gina and Nini mainly took the spotlight, so I loved seeing Ashlyn taking the spotlight this season and proving she had what it takes.
In addition, the music for this season was phenomenal. My favorite song was Nini’s “The Rose Song.” It symbolized Nini’s character development while also personifying the rose from the “Beauty and the Beast” story. The song gave life to the rose and made it a character when it was originally just an object that showed how much time the Beast had left to break his curse.
When it comes to the final episode, I did not like that the students and Miss Jen decided to pull out of the Menkies. It was an underwhelming, but unexpected ending because I assumed from the first episode of season 2 that they would win. It was unsatisfying to see Miss Jen get rid of the results envelope after watching all of their hard work and motivation. I wish they would have given us (the audience) a hint as to who won.
Overall, I enjoyed what this season had to offer with the character development, tidbits of couple moments from relationships— like when Big Red gives Ashlyn a light up sign with her name— and the incredible songs. I wonder what season 3 has in store for us.