- High School Musical: The Musical: The Series showrunner, Tim Federle, reveals that there was an outlandish idea of bringing back Zac Efron.
- A Disney executive suggested having Zac Efron play himself as a documentary filmmaker in High School Musical season 1, which would explain the show’s mockumentary style, but Federle did not like the idea.
- Zac Efron was considered for a cameo in the final season, but it didn’t happen due to scheduling conflicts and the focus on the established cast members.
High School Musical: The Musical: The Series showrunner Tim Federle reveals that there was one idea about bringing Zac Efron, which was pretty outlandish. After months of speculation about whether Efron would reprise his role as Troy Bolton for the show’s final season, that didn’t come to pass due to the actor’s busy schedule and the consideration that Efron’s cameo would take away from the show’s established cast members. But early on in HSMTMTS, a Disney executive had a weird idea about bringing Efron back that Federle wasn’t fond of.
In the High School Musical series finale, Ricky Bowen (Joshua Bassett) at last turns to the mockumentary crew and asks a very pointed question: “Who the f–k are you guys?” The question, a fun little nod, is never answered. But in an interview with The New York Times, Federle sheds some light on the mockumentary choice. He adds that a Disney executive shared that it should be Zac Efron, playing himself, as a documentary filmmaker chronicling the lives of the East High students like Bowen. Federle wasn’t fond of the idea, as he explains in the quote below:
It ended up just being a camera style. A Disney+ executive had this idea in Season 1 of, “What if we got Zac Efron to turn a camera around at the end of the season and reveal he’s been shooting this all along?” It’s a great pitch, but I was like, “I don’t think we want the vibe of like, Zac is now a documentary filmmaker who’s following these students around as they have breakups.”
High School Musical’s Mockumentary Style Mostly Worked
There’s a way in which the show’s mockumentary style could have been considered part of the heightened style of HSMTMTS. The characters feel they’re being watched by a camera crew, with the cutaway confessions representing their inner thoughts. The brief joke in the finale takes away from that, but it could still be explained that an indie film crew or a television crew has taken an interest in East High.
Federle makes a worthwhile point that the mockumentary style in sitcoms should be considered a style rather than evidence of an actual film crew’s presence. But it fits with the show’s approach to humor. High School Musical season 4 casually reveals that Troy and Gabriella (Vanessa Hudgens) are in couples therapy, knowing that it’s a fun and interesting throwaway line that will get viewers talking.
In that same spirit, shooting as a mockumentary allowed High School Musical: The Musical: The Series to get away with jokes and revealing character moments that otherwise wouldn’t. But as Federle says, bringing Efron back as a fictionalized version of himself that is now a documentary filmmaker would be a bit too much of a distraction even for a comedy that could often be wildly meta and winking.
Source: The New York Times