High School Musical

Seven Stars Whose Careers Were Launched by High School Musical: The Series

High School Musical

Before there was High School Musical: The Series (in this article, we will abbreviate it as HSMTS), there was High School Musical, the 2006 film. The hit Disney movie focused on the romance between new student Gabriella Montez, played by Vanessa Hudgens, and basketball star Troy Bolton, played by Zac Efron, in scenes of drama, romance, and musical theater.

The enormous popularity of the movie made Vanessa Hudgens and Zac Efron stars in the late 2000’s. In 2017, Disney announced a new series created by Peter Barsocchini based on the movie, appropriately titled High School Musical : The Musical. Disney approached Tim Federle to produce the series.

Federle tried to persuade Hudgens and Efron to reprise their roles in the series. That wasn’t to be. However, under Federle’s guidance, HSMTS launched the careers of seven new stars, Joshua Bassett, Matt Cornett, Julia Lester, Dara Reneé, Frankie Rodriguez, Olivia Rodrigo, Larry Saperstein, and Sofia Wylie.

Joshua Bassett

Joshua Bassett was cast as Troy Bennett, a skateboarder and guitarist who had dated Nini, but who had no particular interest in musicals, at least at first.

Bassett has also appeared in Better Nate Than Ever (directed by Federle), Dirty John, Grey’s Anatomy, Game Shakers, and Stuck In The Middle. Bassett wrote many of the songs performed in the series, and has released his own album of 10 songs. Bassett donates generously to charities for the homeless and people who have mental illness.

Matt Cornett

Matt Cornett is Ashlyn’s cousin and a high school athlete who likes theater.

Before HSMTS, Cornett starred in Nightmare UI Think My Babysitter’s an Alien, and The Dunes Club. Since the series ended, he has starred in Zombies 3.

Julia Lester

Julia Lester plays Ashlyn, an aspiring songwriter. Since the series, she has starred in pre-Broadway and off-Broadway plays.

Dara Reneé

Dara Reneé plays Kourtney Greene, a self-identified feminist who works in the school costume department. She has done guest parts on Black-ish and Gray’s Anatomy, and hosted Disney’s Magic Bake-Off.

Frankie Rodriguez

Frankie Rodriguez plays Carlos Rodriguez, the choreographer for the drama club in the first two seasons. He is in a real-life relationship with his fellow cast member Joe Serafini, who played Seb, another gay character in the show. Rodriguez has also had a role in Will & Grace.

Olivia Rodrigo

Olivia Rodrigo plays Nini Salazar-Roberts, a musical theater enthusiast who has to work up her courage to write her own songs. Of all the alumni of the show, she is perhaps the best-known. She has won two People’s Choice awards, three Grammies, four iHeartRadio awards, and seven Billboard Music Awards. A song she wrote for the show has been downloaded 570 million times.

Larry Saperstein

Larry Saperstein is Big Red, Ricky’s best friend. Since the show, he has become an LGBTQ icon.

Sofia Wylie

In the series, Sofia Wylie is a transfer student whose ambition is a career in theater. Since the series, she has been cast in a starring role in the Netflix original production The School for Good and Evil.

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