“We’re trying to show what happens when real people really put themselves out there, occasionally get rejected, and keep pushing on,” says Tim Federle in the behind-the-scenes look at his latest creation: Disney+ series High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. “That’s what the theatre teaches you again and again.”
Federle, who first broke into the business as a theatre performer (Broadway’s Gypsy, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Little Mermaid, Billy Elliot) before become a novelist (The Nate series) and a Broadway book writer (Tuck Everlasting), infuses that genuine theatre DNA into the series.
As a mockumentary, The Series follows high school students at East High who are putting on High School Musical: The Musical and captures the friendship, romances, and musical numbers on and off the stage.
“Theatre for me, especially musical theatre was always an escape to be able to sing and express and me around like-minded people where you can be 100 percent yourself,” cast member Frankie A Rodriguez shares of his own experience.
“Theatre is always a place where you will feel loved and accepted,” adds his castmate Julia Lester.
And the entire cast and crew work to reflect that common experience through the show, highlighting the importance of theatre education—while also being darn entertaining. “One of the best things theatre can teach you is that everybody is important and everybody has something to offer that is unique and wonderful and worth being appreciated,” says Broadway alum Kate Reinders, who plays drama teacher Miss Jenn.