The eighth episode of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, “The Tech Rehearsal,” was released on Friday on Dinsey+. In last week’s episode, Ashlyn (Julia Lester) hosts a Thanksgiving cast party at her house since her parents were away. She and Big Red (Larry Saperstein) start to form a bond that might lead to them being more than friends. To elevate the mood of the party, Carlos (Frankie A. Rodriguez) brought a board game that he made himself that was inspired by the original High School Musical film. Ricky (Joshua Bassett) and Gina (Sofia Wylie) attend the party together, which definitely gets Nini’s (Olivia Rodrigo) attention. Back at East High, Miss Jenn (Kate Reinders) and Mr. Mazzara (Mark St. Cyr) end up spending the holiday together after their own parties fall apart. Meanwhile, Ricky is dealing with some startling news about his mother’s life in Chicago.
In “The Tech Rehearsal,” Miss Jenn and the entire cast are forced to find a new place to host the play after the auditorium caught fire. Miss Jenn feels guilty since she and Mr. Mazzara accidentally caused the fire after falling asleep during the final scene of “Thanksgiving.” While coming up with a new place to hold the production, Carlos suggests the El Rey Theater. Having had a horrible experience at that venue, Miss Jenn is uneasy as the rest of the cast begins to move the remaining props and equipment. Ricky is still trying to get a hold of Gina after what happened at Ashlyn’s party while also rehearsing with Nini. Plus, Kourtney (Dara Renee) shows off her incredible singing skills and a very special guest makes an appearance.
I was surprised by the amount of backstory that was dedicated to Miss Jenn in the episode. The show has put in specific moments throughout this season on who she is but never to the extent of showing flashbacks. Her role in the first High School Musical film is revealed, but it didn’t play out the way that she had hoped. While this backstory is great and done well, it’s a bit too late for something like this. I understand keeping some information about her hidden for the purpose of the season’s plot but waiting until the eighth episode is too long. The show’s first season only has ten episodes, with the last two being dedicated to performing the musical. I would’ve sympathized with her character so much more had this been revealed during her school board trial back in episode six.
Much like with Miss Jenn’s backstory, there haven’t been many episodes dedicated to showing the cast practicing for the musical. I’m not one for comparing older material to new adaptations, but the films had more scenes of the cast practicing for whatever production they were putting on than the show does. The show had scenes of them practicing, but it quickly went for the teen drama and romance. I get that we’re supposed to suspend our disbelief in regards to the cast putting on this production, but it would’ve been much better had there been a bigger focus on the overall process of putting it on. This episode had some scenes of them practicing, but it later shifted focus into a moment between Nini and Ricky.
Since the start of the season, I was hoping that there would be cameos from any of the cast members from the original films. During episode six, KayCee Stroh made an appearance as one of the people voting whether or not Miss Jenn should stay as the drama teacher at East High. While it was a brief cameo, I was excited to see her come back and do her signature dance. In “The Tech Rehearsal,” a main cast member from the three films makes an appearance. Lucas Grabeel appears in Miss Jenn’s dream, which gives her the confidence to continue with the play. While it was great to hear him sing, I can’t help but say that this was the main highlight of the episode. It was the only real moment of the episode that I thoroughly enjoyed watching. It’s disappointing for a cameo to be more enjoyable than the episode itself.
The first six episodes of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series‘ first season were quite enjoyable, but I can’t say the same for the past two episodes. The show started to go downhill during last week’s episode, which only increased the momentum in this episode. With only two episodes left, I don’t see how the season can redeem the direction it’s taken. However, I’m hopeful that things will be wrapped up in a way that can set up the next season.
The eighth episode of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series is available now on Disney+.
‘High School Musical: The Musical: The Series,' Episode 8 – "The Tech Rehearsal"
With only two episodes left, I don’t see how the season can redeem the direction it’s taken. However, I’m hopeful that things will be wrapped up in a way that can set up the next season.