REVIEW: ‘High School Musical: The Musical: The Series,’ Episode 2 – “The Read-Thru”

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The second episode of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, “The Read-Thru,” was released on Disney+. In last the previous episode, we were introduced to Ms. Jenn (Kate Reinders), the newly instated drama teacher at East High, which is the same high school where the original High School Musical movie was filmed. Ms. Jenn decides to put on a production of High School Musical since the school has never put one on before.  She hires local sophomore (Frankie A. Rodriguez) to work on the choreography.

Meanwhile, the rest of the student body is returning to school after summer vacation. Ricky (Joshua Bassett) is hoping to make amends with his ex-girlfriend Nini (Olivia Rodrigo), but she is already in a new relationship with EJ (Matt Cornett), a superstar athlete/performer/hunk/boy who parents would love she met while at music camp. After Ms. Jenn makes the announcement that she will be putting on a production of High School Musical, Ricky plans to try out in hopes of getting back in Nini’s good graces.

In “The Read-Thru,” the cast starts to rehearse the musical. Tensions are high between Ricky and Nini since they were cast as Troy and Gabriella. Nini is upset since she knows that Ricky is just in the musical to try and get her back. Ricky contemplates quitting since his plan doesn’t seem to be working. EJ is jealous of Ricky for getting the role of Troy. Gina (Sofia Wylie) sees this chaos as an opportunity to steal the role of Gabriella from Nini.

I was worried that the tension between Ricky, Nini, and EJ would just play out like any typical love triangle found in teen shows. However, it does so much more for the dynamic of the show. For one, it forces Ricky to figure out who he is without Nini. He joined the production to get Nini back, but it clearly doesn’t work. It’s up to him to decide why he wants to continue something that will clearly put him outside of his comfort zone. Seeing this kind of character growth reminds me of Troy in the original High School Musical film. Both Troy and Ricky are teens who belong to a certain high school clique and doing a musical is something completely new. I’m interested in seeing Ricky’s character develop more throughout the season. However, it’s still upsetting to see that he mostly plans to stay in the show to impress Nini at the behest of Gina.

One of the main highlights of the episode was Nini and Ashlyn (Julia Lester) singing “Wondering,” an original song. It perfectly summarizes the situation that Nini is going through with both Ricky and EJ. The song is about wondering whether things could have worked out between two people had different decisions been made. It also brings up whether or not she will find a love like the one she had before. While the show’s main audience is teens, the song had such emotion that any person could easily relate.

The Read-Through Piano

Plus, hearing Nini and Ashlyn sing it was fantastic. It reassures me that the show won’t just focus on just certain characters and will instead give everyone a chance to shine. For instance, we met Ashlyn in the first episode, but she seemed like a minor character. This episode saw her being manipulated by her cousin EJ for his own benefit. It shows that EJ’s nice-guy attitude is fake while also giving Ashlyn’s character an opportunity to grow.

Overall, I really enjoyed watching the second episode of High School Musical: The Musical: The SeriesThough this episode fell short on scenes where the cast is singing, a part of me is glad that they broke away from the trope of randomly breaking into song.

There’s so much potential for the main characters in the show, which I’m hoping we’ll see more of. The mockumentary style still flows well within the show. There were also subtle callbacks to the original film, but they never took away from the plot. The way the past two episodes have ended has done a perfect job of making me eager to see what happens next.

The second episode of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series is available to watch now on Disney+.

'High School Musical: The Musical: The Series,' Episode 2 - "The Read-Thru"
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    Rating - 10/10
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TL;DR

There’s so much potential for the main characters in the show, which I’m hoping we’ll see more of. The mockumentary style still flows well within the show. There were also subtle callbacks to the original film, but they never took away from the plot.