Why The High School Musical Reboot Cast Looks Familiar

A High School Musical reboot is really happening. Over a decade after the original movie premiered, Disney announced a television sequel called High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. Yes, that's really the title. The ten-episode meta, mockumentary-style series is set in East High, where the original film took place and, according to Disney, "follows a group of students as they countdown to opening night of their school's first-ever production of High School Musical." The show, which will premiere on the network's streaming service Disney+ in November 2019, promises to be both nostalgic and fresh.

"Show-mances blossom; friendships are tested, while new ones are made; rivalries flare; songs are sung; and lives are changed forever as these young people discover the transformative power that only high school theater can provide," Disney revealed. When the official trailer dropped in August 2019, viewers got a glimpse of the drama to come and a peek at the cast in action. You may have even recognized a few of the stars. Here's just why the cast of the High School Musical reboot looks so familiar.

Joshua Bassett's role as Ricky in the High School Musical reboot isn't his first

Soon after Disney released character descriptions for High School Musical: The Musical: The Series (via Vulture), actor Joshua Bassett secured the lead role, as reported by Deadline. Vulture speculated that Ricky will be most like Troy from the original movie. As his character description states, Ricky is "a snarky sweetheart, a B-minus student, and our star." Of course, the leading man also has a secret side: "Ricky's class-clowning covers a deep fear that he's not actually great at anything, except coasting by on charm."

According to Gary Marsh, the president and chief creative officer of Disney Channels Worldwide, Bassett is perfect for the High School Musical reboot role. "Joshua's interpretation of the Ricky character was brilliant — funny, winning and, at the same time, uniquely vulnerable," Marsh told Deadline. "The audience is going to love watching this charismatic young actor put his stamp on this next chapter of the High School Musical franchise."

This isn't Bassett's first rodeo, though. You may recognize the actor from his role as Betty's boyfriend Linus in Season 15 of Grey's Anatomy or as Aidan Peters in Stuck in the Middle.

The High School Musical reboot's Olivia Rodrigo has a major show under her belt

The character Nini is described by Disney as "the other star." According to her and Ricky's character descriptions, Ricky had been dating "fellow junior Nini for a year." When she returns from summer camp, though, she breaks up with him. He decides to get her back by auditioning for the leading role opposite her in their school's production of High School Musical. Nini is described as "fiercely loyal to her two moms" and "stronger than she first appears: an iron butterfly." 

In February 2019, it was announced that Olivia Rodrigo had been chosen to play Nini in the High School Musical reboot. According to TV Insider, Rodrigo was born in California and has been singing, acting, and playing music since she was just 6 years old. Most notably, the young actress starred in Disney Channel's three-season series Bizaardvark, a show about two teen best friends performing for and running their own YouTube channel. Although Rodrigo doesn't have a vlog IRL, she regularly performs songs for her 1.2 million Instagram followers. She also happens to really be best friends with Bizaardvark's Madison Hu.

Dara Renee had a starring role in another Disney project before the High School Musical reboot

According to TV Insider, Kourtney, played by Dara Renee, is "Nini's ride-or-die best friend who's obsessed with makeup tutorials and feminism in equal measure." She also "works on the costume crew of High School Musical, pulling together runway-ready fashion on a high school budget."

If Renee looks familiar to you, it may be because you saw her in Disney Channel's musical rendition of Freaky Fridaywhich premiered in August 2018. IndieWire dubbed the movie an "infectiously charming musical reboot" and "a new instant classic." Only time will tell if High School Musical: The Musical: The Series will have the same reception. 

Although Renee may be hoping for similar success, her character in the High School Musical reboot is vastly different from the "mean girl" she played in Freaky Friday. "I felt so bad," Renee revealed in an interview with The Baltimore Sun. "Every time I would have to do a mean scene ... I would apologize every time. And they were, like, 'You don't have to apologize after every take.'" It will be interesting to see the star take on a gentler role.

You might know the High School Musical reboot's Larry Saperstein from late night TV

Just as Nini has her bestie, Ricky has his "wingman" Big Red, played by Larry Saperstein. "A skate rat, Big Red is the spiritual cousin of both Bill and Ted: always fuzzy, he's been sleep-deprived since preschool," his character description for the High School Musical reboot reads (via TV Insider). "Big Red is weirdly devastated by Ricky and Nini's breakup," the character description goes on, as "his surest role is as their wisecracking third wheel." Red also happens to be into Nini — secretly, of course — and joins the musical's backstage team to be closer to her, as noted by The Hollywood Reporter. This is sure to lead to drama.

Although Big Red may be his biggest role as of this writing, Saperstein has been a singer, actor, and tap dancer in real life for some time, according to his site. He starred in the First Wives Club television series in 2019 and has been featured in the series "Teen Slang" on Late Night with Seth Meyers. He also starred in the off-Broadway play Spring's Awakening.

The High School Musical reboot's Kate Reinders is no stranger to TV

You can't run a high school musical without a drama teacher — and that's where Miss Jenn, played by Kate Reinders, comes in. Her character is described as "high-energy and low-reality" — gotta love it — and "she truly believes musicals can save lives," as reported by Vulture. The teacher also battles imposter syndrome and is actively looking for love on Tinder.

But there's even more to Miss Jen than meets the eye. Based on her character description for the High School Musical reboot, we know she lied on her résumé and appears to be keeping a pretty big secret. "She's moved back home to Utah after she left New York under mysterious circumstances, packing up in a hurry," Disney revealed.

Although younger fans may just be getting introduced to Reinders in late 2019, she's been working in Hollywood for some time now. Her first role was in 1995's While You Were Sleeping, according to her IMDb page, and she's since starred in episodes of Ugly Betty, SherriModern Family, and, most notably, Work It.

The High School Musical reboot's Mark St. Cyr has an impressive acting resume

Miss Jen isn't the only teacher you'll get to know at East High in the High School Musical reboot. Mark St. Cyr plays Mr. Mazzara, the school's "somewhat robotic S.T.E.M. teacher," according to TV Insider. "His belief in preparing students for the future often leads him to butt heads with Miss Jenn, who would rather sing about life than live in the real world," his character description reads.

While Mr. Mazzara may be robotic, St. Cyr has proven he's anything but. The actor has been working in Hollywood since 2013 and has popped up in plenty of shows and movies over the years. We're talking The Verge, Sneaky Pete, Doomsday, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Marshall, Chicago P.D., and more — the list could go on and on!

Despite his impressive body of work, St. Cyr's repertoire is mostly made up of one-off roles in different television series. With his confirmed, regular role in High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, though, his luck may soon change.

The High School Musical reboot's Sofia Wylie should be a familiar face to many

Gina, Nini's understudy, is apparently "an entitled princess" whose "ambition pales in comparison with her stage mother's," according to her character description (via Vulture). Gina even believes she may have peaked as a performer back in sixth grade. Before you feel too bad for her, though, she was also voted "most likely to push you down a flight of stairs."

Thankfully, Sofia Wylie, the actress behind Gina, doesn't have that in common with her character. However, she can still empathize with her. "Like any human being ever, there's always a reason behind why you are the way you are, so I always have to remember that with Gina," the actress told Entertainment Weekly. She continued, saying, "I know that Gina will definitely evolve so much, even from how I see her now."

Although you may know Wylie from productions like Andi Mack and Back of the Net, she said starring in the High School Musical reboot is a dream come true. "Deep down, I've always known this was what I wanted to do, but I never actually thought that this could happen," she revealed to EW.

Matt Cornett was a Nickelodeon actor before joining the High School Musical reboot

Nini's new boyfriend, E.J., is described as "the type of ambitious entrepre-nerd who brings homemade props to auditions." As the son of two corporate lawyers, E.J. possesses similar boldness. However, he is "secretly prone to anxiety attacks when anything goes off-plan." The High School Musical reboot's E.J. also hopes to be a producer as opposed to an actor. Perhaps Matt Cornett, the actor cast as E.J., will also one day venture into producing, but, at least as of this writing, he's busy killing it in the acting department.

At the 2016 Young Artist Awards, Cornett won best performance in a TV series for a recurring young actor in the 14 to 21 age category for his work in Nickelodeon's Bella and the Bulldogs. Cornett has starred in plenty of other television shows, too. From Southland to Criminal Minds to The Middle, there's a good chance you've seen this young actor in one show or another.

Frankie Rodriguez appeared on a popular sitcom before the High School Musical reboot

Frankie Rodriguez may have only begun acting in on-screen projects in 2015, but he's already amassed quite the résumé. He started out on the comedy series Raymond & Lane and went on to play Mick in I'm Fine and a younger Mohammed in Only Children. You may have also seen him in Season 10 of Modern Family, as Rodriguez played Eduardo in two episodes. It's in High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, however, that he will be playing his first major role.

Rodriguez was cast as Carlos, a character formerly called Vikram in the High School Musical reboot (via Vulture). Disney describes him as the "captain of the color guard and the student choreographer of High School Musical." Carlos is buddy-buddy with Miss Jen and is afraid of failure. In his mind, Carlos believes he'll win a Tony Award for best choreography. 

Rodriguez feels his character, who is openly gay, is an especially important addition to the show. "He's not a gimmick. He's not the butt of a joke," Rodriguez told Variety. "He's just a kid, existing in high school who loves musical theater and has a passion for it."

The actress behind the High School Musical reboot character Ashlyn has had several TV guest roles

Like her High School Musical reboot co-star Matt Cornett, actress Julia Lester also starred in Nickelodeon's Bella and the Bulldogs. Additionally, the actress played Ingrid in the television series Mr. Student Body President and Emily in the CBS primetime sitcom Mom.

This time around, Lester will be playing Ashlyn, E.J.'s cousin and a "brash and gutsy" new student, according to Vulture. Ashlyn is a huge fan of Sara Bareilles and is secretly hoping to become a songwriter one day. Although she wants a part in her school's production of High School Musical, she's also interested in student council. This certainly makes sense for her character, given she is someone who "can't wait [until] she's old enough to vote and she'll march and protest in the meantime."

Like her onscreen persona, Lester is also a fan of High School Musical. In an interview at the 2019 D23 Expo in California, Lester revealed that she grew up watching the film. However, she also confirmed that the series will be "very different" from the movie.