2:00pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
'High School Musical' TV Series Casts Its Lead
Disney has found its new High School Musical star.
Following a speedy casting process, relative newcomer Joshua Bassett has been tapped to star in High School Musical: The Musical, the 10-episode series set to air on Disney's forthcoming direct-to-consumer streaming service.
Slated to launch in late 2019, the project is based on the Emmy-winning franchise and will be shot as a docu-style series and follow a group of students at East High who stage a performance of High School Musical for their winter theater production, only to realize that as much drama happens offstage as onstage. Every episode will feature a new rendition of a song from High School Musical as well as an original song.
Bassett will play the leading role of Ricky, a cynical but charming high school junior who launches a bold plan to win back his ex-girlfriend Nini — by auditioning to star opposite her in the school's production of High School Musical.
"Joshua's interpretation of the Ricky character was brilliant — funny, winning and, at the same time, uniquely vulnerable. The audience is going to love watching this charismatic young actor put his stamp on this next chapter of the High School Musical franchise" said Gary Marsh, president and chief creative officer at Disney Channels Worldwide.
Bassett, a native of Oceanside, California, is a 17-year-old actor, singer, dancer and guitarist who has been performing in musical theater productions since the age of 7. He has appeared in more than 30 productions and had a recurring role on Disney Channel's Stuck in the Middle. Bassett next has a guest role in Bravo's buzzy scripted anthology Dirty John, starring Connie Britton and Eric Bana. HSM is his first series regular role.
"As someone whose childhood was shaped by the cultural phenomenon that is High School Musical, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to continue to tell this story. Go Wildcats!" Bassett said.
The series will be executive produced by Tim Federle (Ferdinand) and Oliver Goldstick (Pretty Little Liars), with the latter on board as showrunner. HSM exec producers Bill Borden and Barry Rosenbush also exec produce the series. Casting director Julie Ashton is overseeing the casting search for all eight series regular roles (read the descriptions here) for the project. The original franchise launched the career of star Zac Efron.
Bassett is repped by Osbrink Talent Agency, Artistic Endeavors and Jackoway Austen.
Disney's unnamed subscription service is expected to launch in late 2019. It will be home to Disney's animated features and Marvel movies as well as original films and TV series, including High School Musical and a Star Wars live-action show (several are in development).