High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, a Disney+ original series, just aired its season one finale, which is titled “Act Two.” In the previous episode, the cast starts to put on the official production of High School Musical. Miss Jenn (Kate Reinders) was able to convince the school to have the production be moved from the El Rey Theatre back to East High. She also asks Mr. Mazzara (Mark St. Cyr) to help Big Red (Larry Saperstein) with the technical equipment. Nini (Olivia Rodrigo) and Ricky (Larry Saperstein) both have presents for each other but can’t seem to talk without making things awkward. Kourtney (Dara Renee) is asked to take the role of Taylor since Gina (Sofia Wylie) moved away, but that doesn’t last long after Gina makes a surprise appearance. The rest of act one goes on, but sudden revelations cause Ricky and Nini to lose focus from the show.
In “Act Two,” EJ (Matt Cornett) takes the stage as Troy after Ricky willingly gives up the role of Troy. Ricky tries to make sense of seeing his mother (Beth Lacke) with her new boyfriend. Nini, feeling self-conscious about the recruiter from a performing art school being in the audience, starts to have doubts about her acting. While on stage, Nini is shocked to find out that Ricky isn’t playing Troy. She goes backstage to talk to him, which brings up old emotions. Meanwhile, the rest of the cast continues to put on the musical and Big Red has gotten better at dealing with the technical equipment. Needless to say, emotions are at an all-time high in the season finale of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.
Before I talk about anything else, I have to bring up the conversation that Ricky has with his mom about what happened during the previous episode. Ricky is understandably upset about seeing his mom move on so fast when he felt that things would eventually get better between his parents. While I think that it was a bit naive for him to think that, I can understand why he feels hurt. His character has been dealing with the separation of his parents throughout most of the season, which serves as a reference point as to why he’s that angry. His mom isn’t around much, which would explain why she’s surprised to find out that his son feels this way. I can only hope that this tension carries to season two rather than for things to just be magically resolved between the two of them. It’ll also be interesting to see if the romance teased between Miss Jenn and Ricky’s dad (Alex Quijano) is developed more and how Ricky deals with it.
It was obvious from the start of the series that Nini and Ricky were meant to be together. Regardless of what happened during their time apart, they’d somehow end up back together. Nini goes out of her way to check on Ricky during “Act Two,” even if it meant messing up her chances of getting into the performing art school. Even though I’ve been rooting for Gina and Ricky since their possible romance had the most development, I couldn’t help but root for Ricky and Nini by the end of the episode. However, I felt like this connection between the two of them was never really fleshed out. There were flashbacks of the two of them together and several mentions of their relationship in conversations, but nothing that gave me an actual picture of why they care for one another. Part of this problem comes from the season only being ten episodes, but I just wish there was more of their previous relationship to give me a better sense of why they are meant to be together.
One of the most iconic songs of the first High School Musical film was “Breaking Free,” which was performed by Troy and Gabriella during their audition for the spring musical. Even though Troy’s singing voice was dubbed by Drew Seeley, seeing the two of them on stage was incredible. Part of what made the scene incredible was the chemistry that Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens had. With all of this in mind, I had high expectations for how Ricky and Nini would sing and perform the song in “Act Two.” Within the first few lines of the song, I wanted them to just speed through everything else. There was no real chemistry between Bassett and Rodrigo, which made the rest of the song seem lackluster. Any impact that the song would’ve had on the show as a whole was quickly taken away.
Much like Ryan and Sharpay’s characters in the original High School Musical film, EJ and Gina underwent major turnarounds. While Gina’s turnaround took place earlier in the season, EJ’s took place in “Act Two.” Gina’s character development throughout the season led to this change, which played out perfectly. I believed her genuine love for the rest of the cast, especially Ricky. However, EJ’s change felt extremely sudden. I get the sense that it was just done for the sake of it being the season finale rather than because he wanted to change. He could’ve convinced Ricky to not give up on playing Troy if he really did change. I honestly hope we see less of him in season two.
Even with the flaws the episode had, I quite enjoyed watching the series finale of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. If someone had told me that I would enjoy the show when it was announced, I wouldn’t have believed them. However, I was thoroughly impressed with how the characters were introduced and developed as the series progressed. It also didn’t just follow the plot of the film completely, which I can appreciate. There were definitely flaws, but none of them completely tarnished what the show was trying to accomplish. Several storylines for multiple characters were set up perfectly for season two. I’m also very excited to see what musical the show decides to take on next.
Before the release of the first episode, High School Musical: The Musical: The Series was renewed for a second season, which will consist of twelve episodes. It’s also been confirmed that season two will not include High School Musical 2 as its main focus. No release date has been confirmed, but it would be a safe bet to say that it might premiere around the same time that the first season premiered.
'High School Musical: The Musical: The Series,' Episode 10 - "Act Two"
There were definitely flaws, but none of them completely tarnished what the show was trying to accomplish. Several storylines for multiple characters were set up perfectly for season two. I’m also very excited to see what musical the show decides to take on next.