January 17, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

‘High School Musical’ series reveals first look at Season 2

“High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” is officially stepping out of the old and into a new season on Disney+.

On Thursday, the streaming giant unveiled its first look at the teen dramedy‘s highly anticipated sophomore run, which was delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic and is set to debut sometime next year.

The brief but festive teaser sees its young ensemble take over the decked halls of East High for Season 2’s dynamic opening number, “Something in the Air.”

“I said to our amazing choreographer, Zach Woodlee, ‘What if our way back into Season 2 is to really open with a bang, give everybody a solo and just never stop the camera moving,’” showrunner Tim Federle told The Times of the ambitious sequence, which was filmed in one continuous shot.

“It was a really fun, high-risk number to do, because all it takes is one person tripping, and you have to start over. And I’m really proud of how it turned out.”

The preview opens with the series’ central couple, Nini (Olivia Rodrigo) and Ricky (Joshua Bassett), donning colorful holiday sweaters and singing hand in hand. Led by triple threat Gina (Sofia Wylie), the sweethearts are soon joined by their classmates for an energetic dance routine reminiscent of “What Time Is It?,” the schoolwide showstopper from “High School Musical 2.”

“There’s something in the air / About to go off right now / Lighting up all around / I feel it coming,” the students sing in the cheerful scene, which was inspired by the “Uptown Funk” flashmob craze of the mid-2010s.

“Something in the air / A time to look forward to / Get ready for something new / I feel it coming / Something in the air.”

According to Federle, the Season 2 premiere was one of about two episodes shot before the pandemic shut down production in March, hence the grand scale of its first musical performance. When filming resumed in October, Federle had to make some “obvious” adjustments, such as avoiding “scenes where we had 100 people in the background.”

The cast of “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” on set in Salt Lake City.

(Nick Sokoloff / Disney+)

Additionally, the cast is “largely quarantined when they’re not shooting” and gets tested for COVID-19 multiple times a week, in accordance with safety guidelines for the entertainment industry and Salt Lake City, where “High School Muscial: The Musical: The Series” is filmed.

Federle said the second season doesn’t stray too far in essence from the first, which focused on the evolving relationships among its 11 recurring characters.

“When we came back, I basically said to the cast and crew — I showed them [‘Something in the Air’] — because I wanted them to be as excited as I still was for the show,” Federle said.

“I said to them, ‘We’re still making that show. We’re just making it a little bit different now. But we want the audience to be able to watch Season 2 and not notice the difference.’ So we’re still singing and dancing down the halls. We just wear masks in between.”

Joe Serafini and Frankie A. Rodriguez performing in holiday attire for "High School Musical: The Series"

Joe Serafini as Seb, left, and Frankie A. Rodriguez as Carlos in the Season 2 premiere of “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.”

(Nick Sokoloff / Disney+)

Season 2 will shine a brighter spotlight on some fan-favorite supporting characters, including Wylie’s Gina, choreographer extraordinaire Carlos (Frankie A. Rodriguez) and vocal powerhouse Kourtney (Dara Reneé). Plus, Federle teased some casting “surprises” for the students’ upcoming production of “Beauty and the Beast.”

“Kourtney has the first solo in Season 2, and that’s for a reason,” Federle said. “This is a season to allow everyone to come into their own, whether they’re — quote, unquote — cast in the lead or not.

“There’s a lot of fan requests online for, quote, unquote, secondary characters to have their time in the sun, and I think the audience will see that almost right away,” he added.

“Something in the Air” is one of multiple original tracks to be featured next season, including “The Perfect Gift,” which Bassett wrote for his character and will perform during the series’ holiday special, premiering Friday on Disney+.

Rodrigo, who penned the hit Season 1 ballad “All I Want,” also has written a “pretty extraordinary” song for the second season, Federle revealed. She’ll perform Joni Mitchell’s “River” for Friday’s yuletide celebration.

“This was an opportunity to showcase what is the most extraordinary thing about these people, which is, like, all Olivia needs is a piano. All Sofia needs is an empty space, and she can fill it with dance and an incredible personality,” Federle said of the special, which will see the cast cover seasonal classics, from “Last Christmas” to “Feliz Navidad.”

“The more you get to know them and who they really are, the more remarkable it is that they can pull off as much as they can.”