Big Red is making his stage debut this season on High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. He auditioned for Beauty and the Beast and has been cast as the legendary LeFou. HollywoodLife spoke EXCLUSIVELY with Larry Saperstein about what’s next for Big Red after nabbing a role in the musical.
“Well, I hope we can do Josh Gad and Luke Evans justice. I hope that they see it, and they’re proud of us,” Larry told HollywoodLife. EJ has been cast as Gaston. Larry teased that Big Red and EJ will be spending more time together in season 2. “There are a few amazing Big Red and EJ moments in the second half of the season, which I’m really excited about,” Larry revealed. “In season one, we got to be in scenes together, but we never really got to have a one-on-one thing. We had a couple of great rehearsals together, me and Matt, and we just got so much closer this season because we got to have some awesome moments together.”
During his audition, there was a moment when Big Red fell to the floor after his nerves got the best of him. Ricky was right there to help him up. Larry said that was “such a wonderful character moment for the two of them. Because in season one, we saw Ricky had problems, and Big Red was there to give advice and help him. Now we’re sort of getting to dig a little bit deeper and see that Ricky is also there for his friends and Big Red has problems too. It’s not a one-sided friendship. They really are wonderful friends, so you really get to see that as the season goes on. We start to look at different challenges that both of them are facing, and they really are there for each other, and their friendship just continues to grow. They both become a little bit more mature and take a little bit more responsibility. It’s really exciting to kind of grow that best buds thing into something more than just a silly thing.”
Ashlyn and Big Red are still going strong in season 2. Larry gushed that Ashlyn and Big Red are “two characters that are really kind of meant for each other. They not only bring out the best in each other, but they also see the best in each other, even when the other one doesn’t necessarily see the best in themselves. They are really just able to help each other grow, and it’s really exciting to kind of go on that journey with them and see what challenges they’re facing as they’re kind of growing and changing and how they do that together as a couple, and also how they find themselves individually through this couple.”
Larry continued: “Big Red is so lucky that he has this wonderful support system in Ricky and Ashlyn, especially, and the drama department that he’s kind of rewarded for stepping outside of his comfort zone and trying something new and encouraged to do those things. I think it’s a really wonderful kind of growth journey for him that he’s kind of learning about this new thing that he’s maybe good at and seeing how that plays into where he wants to go in life.”
While Big Red has been cast as LeFou, Ashlyn has nabbed the leading role of Belle. The pressure is on for both of them. “They’re both sort of the figuring things out,” Larry told HollywoodLife. “She’s excited but also there’s a responsibility there and there’s pressure. We’re dealing with Big Red being on stage for the first time and Ashlyn being the lead. They’re kind of working through that and figuring out how to rely on each other when they need to rely on each other. There are going to be a lot of amazing moments as the season goes on where they work through those things.”
The East High Wildcats taking on Beauty and the Beast is a full-circle moment for Larry. “Beauty and the Beast was actually my freshman year of high school’s high school musical. It was my first ever high school musical and I played Lumiere. So now I get to kind of do it all over again and do another high school musical version of Beauty and the Beast. It was fun to kind of revisit that and come full circle.” New episodes of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series season 2 premiere Fridays on Disney+.