One last holiday gift, just for all the fans of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series! On the final episode before ‘opening night’, the cast and crew of Miss Jenn’s production unexpectedly find themselves in need of a new location for tech rehearsal, and find themselves at a spooky theater downtown. Turns out, Miss Jenn, played by the Great White Way’s Kate Reinders, has history with this particular space and she’s forced to face old demons while within it’s walls.
By episode’s end, we finally learn Miss Jenn’s tortured past with the original High School Musical film, as she reveals that she had one line in one scene with Lucas Grabeel — but it was cut. It was in this very theater that she realized her moment was lost to the cutting room floor, and it was also the moment she lost all of her confidence as an actress. While taking a moment to collect herself, Miss Jenn accidentally gets a knock on the head — and then the real fun begins.
Kate, who has yet to really strut her Broadway talents in song on the show, gets perhaps the biggest number on the series to date. Not only is it an uplifting anthem, but it includes the return of Lucas as Ryan, who helps Miss Jenn remember how talented she really is. “The first time I heard it, I was driving and had to stop to send a happy-weepy selfie to [show creator] Tim Federle,” Kate revealed EXCLUSIVELY to HollywoodLife.com. “I am Miss Jenn in so many ways!”
The song, ‘Role Of A Lifetime,’ is a comical, show-stopping number, where Miss Jenn embraces the part she was always meant to play: mentor to her theater kids. Turns out, that message transcended the plot line of the series for Kate. “I always say being a mom has made me a better actress,” Kate shared, ” but being Miss Jenn has made me a better mom too. My 2-year-old, Luke, likes to listen to all of the HSMTMTS songs, but especially this one: in the car, in the bathtub, he asks for, ‘Mommy’s song? Mommy’s song?’ And when we shot it, and I was onstage looking out at all of my show kids — and Luke was in the audience! — my heart pretty much burst. Death by happiness.”
That happiness shows in her performance, as she twirls and dances with Lucas, singing about her work as a teacher and how rewarding it’s been. At one point, Ryan sings about it being a greater part than some of the most memorable on Broadway, like Eponine and Elphaba, before Miss Jennifer replies, “I’m more of a Glinda.” Fans of Kate will catch the irony here, as Kate did in fact play Glinda in the Broadway production of Wicked. Turn out, Kate had a little something to do with that line. “Yes, I made that line up,” Kate confessed. “But that’s also what Miss Jenn would say! When I went into the studio to record, I asked them if I could add it. I wasn’t sure if they would keep it— but they did!”
As the first of the OG HSM six to make an appearance on the show, Lucas is really opening the door for his fellow cast mates to follow, especially given how much fun he had. “I thought it was great,” Lucas shared in our EXCLUSIVE interview with him. “This whole idea that I play a kind of amalgamation of myself and the dream sequence and Ryan kind of all mixed together was really interesting and fun.” Kate and the kids of the new High School Musical world agree with him.
“Lucas is a sweetheart and his voice is unreal!” gushed Kate about working with him. “A lot of our crew worked on the original movies with him, so we knew he was going to be wonderful and everyone was very excited. But he really went above and beyond with me and the kids on set. I mean, HE IS RYAN, so we were all nervous and wanted his approval in a weird, ‘please tell us we’re not ruining this amazing thing you made, because we love it and we love you’ way! But he was like, ‘Relax. You got this. Here is the torch and I am proudly passing it.'”
New episodes of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series premiere Fridays on Disney+.