The End of Something New

High School Musical: The Musical: The Series Season 1 Recap

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The End of Something New

The cast of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series embrace in a group hug as they close off the season 1 finale.

The cast of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series embrace in a group hug as they close off the season 1 finale.

Courtesy of Disney Channel Media

The cast of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series embrace in a group hug as they close off the season 1 finale.

Courtesy of Disney Channel Media

Courtesy of Disney Channel Media

The cast of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series embrace in a group hug as they close off the season 1 finale.

Stephen Serrano, Section Editor

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The hottest new show on Disney’s streaming platform, Disney +, has just wrapped up its first season. Set at East High School in Salt Lake City, Utah, High School Musical: The Musical: The Series (HSMTMTS) is a mockumentary-style show that follows the “real” students of East High, the school where the original High School Musical movies were filmed at. In their world, East High’s drama department had never staged a production of High School Musical: The Musical, until a new, apparent millennial teacher, Miss Jenn (played by Kate Reinders), joins the faculty and decides to put on HSM. The two main characters, Ricky and Nini (played by Joshua Bassett and Olivia Rodrigo), begin the show as two ex’s and are later cast as Troy and Gabriella in the musical. Throughout the series, HSMTMTS explores the rehearsals, budding romances, recovering relationships, deep family drama, and of course, the final product: High School Musical: The Musical. The first season of the show really took the world by storm. From “All I Want,” a song written and sung by Olivia Rodigo from the series going viral on Tik Tok and the thirsty edits of Joshua Bassett on YouTube, HSMTMTS has surpassed many critics initial reactions to the new series. On January 10, the last episode of the series was released on Disney +. Because there was so much that happened, a recap for the last episode is in action (spoilers ahead).

Entitled, “Act Two,” the tenth and final episode of HSMTMTS starts right where the show left off: EJ (played by Matt Cornet) wearing Ricky’s Troy basketball uniform. After explaining to his cousin, Ashlyn (played by Julia Lester), that Ricky gave him the role after feeling like he was not good enough for Nini to impress the dean from the Youth Actors Conservatory, Carlos (played by Frankie Rodriguez) fills in to play Chad in place of EJ. Continuing in the musical, Nini and Gina (played by Sofia Wylie), playing Taylor, share a scene. Backstage after their scene, Nini and Gina finally have a sweet moment between each other as they hug and say that they will miss each other after Gina flies home after the show. 

After the bittersweet scene, Ricky is seen calling Nini to say that he is no longer playing the role of Troy. He texts her instead for she did not answer her phone. Following that, the series cuts to a scene onstage with EJ and Nini playing their characters with Nini surprised to see EJ. With awkward tension and messing up lines, Nini runs off stage. Ashlyn stays onstage to sing her power ballad she wrote for her part as Miss Darbus, entitled, “Wondering.” Big Red (played by Larry Saperstein) grins as the spotlight on Ashlyn and Lynn (played by Beth Lacke) consoles Ricky after finding him outside the gym. Even though he was thrown off after she brought her boyfriend, Ricky still believed it was best for Nini for EJ to fill in because he thought he wasn’t at his best. 

In amidst another scene change, Carlos reassures Seb (played by Joe Serafini) who plays Sharpay because his entire family came to support him. With all the technical equipment dealt with the “Bop to the Top” number, Mr. Mazzara (played by Mark St. Cyr) offers Big Red a spot in the robotics club, leaving many doors open for the second season. Gina then finds Ricky outside of the gym to tell him to at least support his friends still onstage. In the second to last scene of the musical, the “Breaking Free” number, EJ explains to Nini in dialogue that he “isn’t the Troy she wants,” and walks off stage. Nini spots Ricky at the gym entrance and pulls out her phone as a flashlight on Ricky, a parallel to the series pilot when Ricky pulled out his phone’s flashlight for Nini. They proceed to sing the song and “We’re All In This Together” with the whole ensemble. The cast does a curtain call and ends the show.

Backstage, Ricky and Nini share an emotional scene filled with tears and a long kiss. Ricky explains to Nini that he doesn’t know what to do after the musical and Nini responds sarcastically, humorously, and nonchalantly. Before Nini walks out of the dressing room door, Ricky professes his love for Nini. He explains that he’s loved her for many years and recalls numerous memories they shared together. They end with a kiss and gift each other engraved presents: a guitar pick for Nini and a dog tag necklace for Ricky. 

The whole cast proceeds to meet their family and friends when the dean of the conservatory finds Nini. Nini, thinking that the dean left during the curtain call was not going to acknowledge her, was surprised when she stuck around and gave her admission starting the following month at the school. In dismay, Nini seems perplexed as the scene ends. The show is not finished yet. The end credits scene shows Big Red tap dancing and shooting the confetti cannons afterward. After Ashlyn witnesses this, she drops the followers Big Red gifted her and they kiss, finishing the last episode of the first season. 

With a momentous season finale, the HSMTMTS fandom has become stronger than ever. With fans wanting more and more content after the show ending, Disney decided to make special sing-along editions of each episode in the series. The finale left just enough to close off many storylines while also giving us just enough to wonder what is going to happen next. Initially “watching it as a joke but later loving it,” Frankie Little (12) is a fan of the series and grew to enjoy all aspects of the show. Watching the finale, she had “chills the entire time and cried multiple times” in response to the emotion and power the actors conveyed. Disney + has not disappointed with this show, making it known that HSM can be enjoyed by a new generation of wildcats. Fans will have to wait for the second season, however, for the cast is filming in February and set to be released in the fall of this year. High School Musical: The Musical: The Series has gone from a shocking change to the franchise to an instant classic. Time will only tell when the plot thickens in season two, as the “start of something new” comes to an end.