All posts by Michelle Beck

Production Begins & Cast Announced For Disney+ Original Series ‘High School Musical: The Musical: The Series’

Production is underway in Salt Lake City, Utah, on the highly anticipated, innovative and re-invented “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” for Disney+, The Walt Disney Company’s upcoming streaming service. The series is developed and executive produced by Tim Federle (“Ferdinand”), alongside showrunner and executive producer Oliver Goldstick (“Pretty Little Liars,” “Ugly Betty”). Bill Borden and Barry Rosenbush (the original “High School Musical” trilogy) are also executive producers. Sundance Film Festival-nominated film, television and music video director Tamra Davis (“Empire,” “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”) is directing the first three episodes. The choreographer is Zach Woodlee (“Glee,” “Dumplin’”).

The 10-episode series picks up nearly 15 years after the original movie aired at the real-life location where it all began: East High. It follows a group of students as they countdown to the opening night of their school’s first-ever production of “High School Musical.” Showmances blossom; friendships are tested while new ones are made; rivalries flare and lives are changed forever as these young people discover the transformative power that only a high school drama club can provide.

Brand-new songs and acoustic “rehearsal room” reinterpretations of songs from the original “High School Musical” provide the soundtrack for an unlikely group of theater kids who learn “we’re all in this together” when it comes to pulling off an against-all-odds opening night.

“The challenge we handed the creative team was Herculean. How do you recapture the joy and the magic of the original ‘High School Musical’ movie … and simultaneously reimagine it completely?” said Gary Marsh, president and chief creative officer, Disney Channels Worldwide. “That’s like trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube blindfolded. And Tim and Oliver—and this amazingly talented and diverse cast and crew—have done exactly that!”

“We are truly excited about this extremely talented cast and the fresh and contemporary take on this globally-beloved franchise,” said Agnes Chu, senior vice president of content, Disney+. “From the music and dance to the characters and hilarious meta references, there is something here for fans of the originals, as well as people who are new to East High. It’s going to be an unforgettable viewing experience for Disney+ subscribers.”

Joining Joshua Bassett (previously announced), the multitalented cast includes Olivia Rodrigo (“Bizaardvark”), Kate Reinders (“Modern Family,” Broadway’s “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical”), Sofia Wylie (“Andi Mack”), Matt Cornett (“Bella and the Bulldogs”), Dara Reneé (“Freaky Friday”), Julia Lester (“Mom”), Frankie Rodriguez (“Modern Family”), Larry Saperstein (“Fan Girl”), and Mark St. Cyr (“Doomsday”).

“High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” cast includes the following:

Joshua Bassett (Ricky)– Basset is an 18-year-old actor and songwriter from Oceanside, California. He had a recurring role on Disney Channel’s “Stuck in the Middle,” recently guest starred on “Dirty John” and can currently be seen in a recurring role on ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy.” Bassett plays Ricky, a sarcastic yet charismatic skate rat and high school junior who launches a bold plan to prove himself to his ex-girlfriend Nini—by auditioning to star opposite her in the school’s first-ever production of “High School Musical: the Musical.”

Olivia Rodrigo (Nini) – Born and raised in Temecula, California, Rodrigo has been singing, playing music and acting since she was age six. She most recently starred in Disney Channel’s comedy “Bizaardvark.” In “High School Musical: The Musical,” Rodrigo plays Nini, just returned from summer theater camp where she found her voice, her confidence—and her new boyfriend. Fiercely loyal to her two moms, Nini is a star … if she can just believe in herself long enough to stay put in the spotlight.

Kate Reinders (Miss Jenn) – A stage, film and television actress, Reinders was a series regular on ABC’s “Work It” and Lifetime’s “Sherri.” She guest starred on ABC’s “Modern Family” and “Ugly Betty.” Her theatre roles include Broadway productions of “Meteor Shower,” “Something Rotten!,” “Wicked,” Sam Mendes’ revival of “Gypsy” and “Beautiful, the Carole King Musical.” Her “High School Musical: The Musical” character, Miss Jenn, is the school’s new high-energy, low-reality drama teacher, who believes musicals can save lives. She may suffer from serious imposter syndrome, but she would do anything for her students, even if it means fudging a few credits on her C.V.

Sofia Wylie (Gina) – Born and raised in Scottsdale, Arizona, Wylie has a starring role in Disney Channel’s critically acclaimed series “Andi Mack,” and most recently made her musical debut with “Side by Side,” part of the “Marvel Rising: Chasing Ghosts” special. She is recording her debut single, which should be out in late 2019. Wylie is also the voice of Riri Williams in the “Marvel Rising: Heart of Iron” animation series and just made her big screen debut with a leading title in Marvista’s “Back of the Net.” Her character, Gina, is a recent transfer student and a diehard theater kid with as many skeletons in the closet as she has credits on her résumé. She is both ambitious and entitled, and dead set on showing Miss Jenn that she made a huge mistake in casting her as the understudy.

Matt Cornett (E.J.) – Born in Rogers, Arkansas, Cornett had a recurring role on “Bella and The Bulldogs” and guest starred on ABC’s “The Middle,” “Southland” and “Criminal Minds,” among others. He will play E.J., Nini’s new love interest and the supremely confident son of two corporate lawyers, who secretly battle the pressures of living up to his picture-perfect Instagram account. Co-captain of the water polo team, senior class treasurer, and trust fund baby … it’s not a good idea to cross E.J. if you get something he wants—like the lead in the musical.

Dara Reneé (Kourtney) – Los Angeles-born and Baltimore-raised, Reneé has entertainment in her genes. Since the age of 11, Reneé has studied at her and her mom’s performing arts studio, “Encouraging Youth to Dream.” She recently starred as Savannah in Disney Channel’s Original Movie “Freaky Friday,” has guest starred on ABC’s “The Kids Are Alright” and recently landed the recurring role of Stunts on the hit ABC show “black-ish.” Reneé plays the role of Kourtney, Nini’s ride-or-die best friend who’s obsessed with makeup tutorials and feminism in equal measure. Kourtney works on the costume crew of “High School Musical,” pulling together runway-ready fashion on a high school budget.

Julia Lester (Ashlyn) – Los Angeles native Julia Lester has been working professionally since the age of five. Some of her television credits include recurring roles on the comedies “Mom,” “Prince of Peoria” and “Mr. Student Body President.” She has performed in dozens of local and regional musical productions including “Carrie: The Musical” and “Next to Normal.” Lester plays E.J.’s cousin Ashlyn, an “old soul” who worships Sara Bareilles and is an aspiring songwriter on the sly.

Frankie A. Rodriguez (Carlos) – Rodriguez has worked in television and film for the last four years and can be seen in the guest-starring role of Eduardo on ABC’s “Modern Family.” In “High School Musical: The Musical,” Rodriguez plays Carlos, captain of the color guard and the student choreographer for the show. Carlos thinks of Miss Jenn as a peer. He eats lunch in her office, has been drinking espresso since the 3rd grade and already has his Tony Awards® speech memorized.

Larry Saperstein (Big Red) – Born and raised in Long Island, New York, Saperstein acted opposite Kiernan Shipka in the film “Fan Girl” and will guest star in an upcoming episode of BET’s “The First Wives Club.” A skater boy through and through, Big Red is the spiritual cousin of both Bill and Ted—always fuzzy and he’s been sleep-deprived since preschool. Big Red is weirdly devastated by Ricky and Nini’s breakup. His surest role is as their wisecracking third wheel.

Mark St. Cyr (Mr. Mazzara) – A Louisiana native and an alumna of the ABC Diversity Showcase, St. Cyr’s credits include the film “Marshall,” opposite Chadwick Boseman and Jussie Smollett, and the critically acclaimed “Doomsday.” He also guest starred on “Chicago P.D.” and “After After Party.” In “High School Musical: The Musical,” St. Cyr plays Mr. Mazzara, East High’s somewhat robotic S.T.E.M. teacher. 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.

The Walt Disney Company Remembers Dave Smith

Walt Disney Archives founder Dave Smith passed away in Burbank, California, on February 15, 2019. He was 78. Dave dedicated his four-decade career at The Walt Disney Company to preserving Disney’s precious treasures from film, television, theme parks, and beyond. Named a Disney Legend in 2007, Dave was beloved by fans around the world for his wide knowledge of the Company’s rich history, which he shared in books and through his popular magazine column “Ask Dave.”

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“I’m deeply saddened to learn of Dave Smith’s passing,” said Bob Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Walt Disney Company. “He was the unsung hero of Disney’s history who, as our first archivist, spent 40 years rescuing countless documents and artifacts from obscurity, investing endless hours restoring and preserving these priceless pieces of our legacy, and putting them in context to tell our story. Dave was a true Disney Legend, and we are indebted to him for building such an enduring, tangible connection to our past that continues to inspire our future.”

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Dave was hired in 1970 by Walt’s brother—and The Walt Disney Company co-founder—Roy O. Disney, and his first responsibility was cataloguing every item inside Walt’s office suite, which had been left untouched after Walt’s passing four years prior. Thanks to Dave’s meticulously detailed notes and records, the Archives was able to restore the suite in 2015, and today Disney employees are able to visit and draw inspiration from this remarkable space. During his time as Disney’s Chief Archivist, Dave grew the Archives from a simple one-person department to a model among corpo­rate archives. He was regarded by fans and historians as the final authority on matters of Disney history, and was an active member of the Society of California Archivists. He served from 1980 to 2001 as Executive Director of the Manuscript Society, an international association of collectors, dealers, librarians, archivists, and others interested in manuscript material.

Born and raised in Pasadena, California, the child of librarians and educators, Dave earned a B.A. in history and a Master’s Degree in Library Science from the University of California at Berkeley. Before coming to Disney, he gained library and archives experience working in the Manuscript Department of the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, interning at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., and serving on the staff of the Research Library at U.C.L.A.

Dave wrote extensively about Disney history, with regular columns in Disney fan publications and websites, as well as authoring, co-authoring, and editing numerous articles and books on Disney history, including the official Disney encyclopedia Disney A to Z, Disney: The First 100 Years, The Quotable Walt Disney, Disney Trivia from the Vault, and The Ultimate Disney Trivia Books 1, 2, 3, and 4.

In October 2007, Dave was honored with the prestigious Disney Legend Award. A resident of Burbank, California, Dave retired in 2010 after his 40th anniversary with The Walt Disney Company and continued working for the next nine years as a consultant for the Company, with the title of Chief Archivist Emeritus.

The Walt Disney Company’s condolences and thoughts go out to his family and friends at this time.

VIDEO: NEW ‘Descendants 3’ Trailer

Check out the “Descendants 3” trailer and see Mal (Dove Cameron), Evie (Sofia Carson), Carlos (Cameron Boyce), Jay (Booboo Stewart), Uma (China Anne McClain) (and a couple of new faces) as the baddest villain kids, back for a third time!

“Descendants 3” will debut on Disney Channel this summer!

#FaveFive – Our Favorite Disney Happenings This Week

Welcome to our #FaveFive where we bring you our top 5 favorite Disney happenings this week!

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1. Full menus for the 2019 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival are here!

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2. Welcome back World of Color! We missed you!

3. Toy Story 4 ice-cream?!?!

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4. Zombies 2 Is A Go!

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5. Have you seen the most watched animated trailer of all time?

See you next week!

#ICYMI: The DisWorld’s News Round-up for February 11- February 15, 2019

This week, booths and menus are released for the 2019 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, World of Color gets a return date at the Disneyland Resort, and a teaser trailer is released for Frozen 2 and becomes the most watched animated trailer of all time. Take a look!

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WALT DISNEY WORLD RESORT

Disney Minnie Van Airport Transportation Service Expands Hours and Increases Price

Celebrate Villaintine’s Day With Special Disney Villain Merchandise

Disney Channel’s ‘Kim Possible’ Stars Visit Walt Disney World Resort

Ralph and Vanellope Meet and Greet at Epcot Moving This Week

Booths and Menus Released for 2019 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival

Tower of Terror to Operate at Reduced Capacity During Refurbishment

Kevin from Disney•Pixar’s ‘Up!’ Now Greeting Guests at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Check Out the Tiramisu Shake at Vivoli il Gelato at Disney Springs

Stuffed French Toast Cupcake Returns to Sprinkles

Frontera Cocina at Disney Springs Has A New Happy Hour

Mighty St. Patrick’s Festival Returns to Raglan Road at Disney Springs March 15-17

Ron Jon Surf Shop Coming Soon to Disney Springs

Dates Announced and Tickets On Sale For 10th Annual Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic

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DISNEYLAND RESORT

Southern California Choirs 10th Anniversary of ‘Celebrate Gospel’ at the Disneyland Resort

World of Color Returning to Disney California Adventure Park This Month

Stuffed French Toast Cupcake Returns to Sprinkles

OTHER NEWS

The Walt Disney Company Remembers Ron Miller

Innovations from DisneyResearch|Studios Receive Academy’s Sci-Tech Award

Disney Tops Most “Intimate” Brands Survey

New ‘Toy Story 4’ Ice Cream Flavors Coming Soon

Emperor Palpatine Actor and More Announced For Star Wars Celebration Chicago

New Character Posters & Sneak Peek Released for Disney’s ‘Dumbo’

New Teaser Trailer and Poster for ‘Frozen 2’

‘Oscars All Access: Red Carpet Live’ to Stream Exclusively on Twitter

New Season of ABC’s ‘American Idol’ Kicks Off With a Star-Studded Premiere Week

Disney Channel Greenlights ‘Zombies 2’ With Returning Stars

Four Marvel Animated Shows Coming to Hulu

Digital Release of ‘The Little Mermaid’ 30th Anniversary Edition Now Available

Digital Release of ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ Now Available

VIDEO: New Trailer for Disney’s ‘Aladdin’ Airs During Grammy’s

VIDEO: Exclusive Sneak Peek of ‘Toy Story 4’ on Good Morning America

VIDEO: Frozen 2 Official Teaser Trailer

VIDEO: First Look at Hades from ‘Descendants 3’