Julia Lester Reveals Season 2 ‘High School Musical: The Musical: The Series’ Details, From Dancing, to ‘Standout Moments, and More
High School Musical: The Musical: The Series premiered on Disney+ back in November 2019 and it was a pretty big moment all around. Not only was it one of the first original series on the new streaming platform, but it was also a brand new take on the massively popular franchise that most of us grew up with: High School Musical.
So even though it had some big shoes to fill at a pretty opportune moment, HSMTMTS delivered. It really worked thanks to the cast and the original songs, along with the fact that it wasn’t rehashing the original movies. So a highly-anticipated season 2 was a no-brainer. And Julia Lester sat down with Showbiz CheatSheet (via Zoom) and gave us some insight into what to expect from Ashlyn and High School Musical: The Musical: The Series with the premiere of season 2 this Friday.
Julia Lester said Ashlyn faces some situations in ‘HSMTMTS’ second season that are a bit uncomfortable
Lester plays Ashlyn Moon Caswell, an aspiring songwriter and another sophomore at East High alongside Nini (Olivia Rodrigo). She’s a pretty booked and busy gal; throughout the first season, Ashlyn is seen working between the Robotics Club, Baking Club, Renaissance Club, and of course she has her responsibilities with the musical. She’s also cousins with E.J. (Matt Cornett), a senior, a major theater kid, and the guy Nini chooses over the summer. And over Ricky (Joshua Bassett).
Ashlyn was cast as Ms. Darbus in their production of High School Musical, but unlike in the movie version, Miss Jenn (Kate Reinders) gave her a solo song, which Ashlyn wrote in the show. Lester shared that “Wondering” — that solo tune — was the first thing she worked on for the show, and it went on to have 50 million streams on Spotify as of February.
When it comes to Ashlyn’s character in season 2, what can we expect? Lester says Ashlyn’s “pretty confident in herself” but she does tend to “play it safe” even when it came to big moments, like with Big Red (Larry Saperstein). Or even while playing Ms. Darbus, those are things that were scary, but “made sense for her.” But that’s not the case this season.
“I think this season she’s put in situations where she’s kind of given the opportunity to not have to feel so comfortable with herself, which can have its negatives and have its positives,” Lester says. “And I think it’ll be really exciting for fans to see how she figures that out and navigates a different side of her that she might not… be comfortable with showing all the time.”
There’s a lot more dancing this season, which Lester loved
Outside of Ashlyn getting into some more uncomfortable situations, whatever that may be, Lester also promises “a lot more dancing” in season two of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. Gina (Sofia Wylie) was a big dancer in the first season, but Lester says that everyone gets in on that action this time around, which she’s excited about.
“Dancing has always been something that’s really important in my life,” Lester reveals. “And I got to, you know, dance a little bit last season. But this season we kind of all have the opportunity to move a little bit more.”
This may or may not have to do with the fact that Derek Hough is joining the cast as a recurring character, Zack, aka Miss Jenn’s ex-boyfriend. But it’s also just an added bonus for the cast to explore.
“Some of my favorite parts of being in Utah and filming the show is dance rehearsal and learning those numbers and stuff like that,” she says. “So we got to do way more of the season. So it was really fun and I can’t wait to see them…”
Everyone has a ‘standout moment’ on this season of ‘High School Musical: The Musical: The Series,’ so watch out
Another thing that High School Musical: The Musical: The Series did really well was that it highlighted all of its cast. With the movies, there were the core members and that was about it. But the series was able to really spend at least a little bit with each character. And Lester shares that season 2 is going to give even more of a spotlight to its cast.
“I think that everybody this season gets a really special standout moment, every single person in the cast, which I think is really special,” Lester reveals. “So I’m very excited for everyone to get a closer look into all these characters and some people that you might not have had a close look at last season.”
She can’t say who exactly steps into the main light just yet — Friday, May 14 will start the premiere and bring some answers as the season progresses — but Lester gushed about the writing and overall arcs that will come.
“Everybody is so wonderful, and the way that they write these characters is so genuine and from such a beautiful, true place,” Lester says. “And I just love the people that are in the show. So I’m just excited for everyone to see those moments and to learn more about the characters.”
The pandemic obviously impacted season 2 but didn’t derail it or change it too much. And the heart of the show that fans could clearly feel in season 1 is still very much there. Lester said that it actually gained more “soul” with the cast growing closer through Zoom calls over quarantine.
“I think the show gained more of a… heart,” she says. “And we all kind of gained more of an appreciation and understanding for each other and everything. But the show itself is still just as exciting as season one and hasn’t lost any of its magic.”
High School Musical: The Musical: The Series season 2 premieres on Disney+ on May 14.