Sharpay as the new Ms. Darbus would be fabulous — not to mention a cameo from Troy and Gabriella
Credit: Everett Collection

The East High Wildcat spirit is alive and well, now that High School Musical 4 is in the works. Disney Channel announced the news on Tuesday, and casting is underway (it’s open, so start those vocal warm-ups). It’s the start of something new to be sure, but what will the actual film be like?

Or rather, what do we, the HSM-obsessed who watched the originals over and over and over again, memorized all the songs and corresponding dance moves, and had posters of Zac Efron plastered all over our high school bedrooms — or was that just us? — want from the newest entry?

Below, find one super-fan’s hopes for the latest in the High School Musical franchise, which will hopefully be able to stand on its own while paying appropriate homage to the originals.

The Story

The film will have a script by Dan Berendsen and Peter Barsocchini, the latter of whom wrote the prior three films, and will feature the East High Wildcats and West High Knights, laying the groundwork for a West Side Story-like narrative. West High has always been in the picture (consider cheerleading chants and Coach Bolton’s animated pep talks about beating the rivals), but has never been in the spotlight, so if the film were to take that kind of approach it would offer a fresh story for the franchise. One thing is that it shouldn’t be a replica of the classic tale of the at-war Jets and Sharks, but a unique cast of characters could make it different enough.

The Director

Jeffrey Hornaday is taking the reins from Kenny Ortega, who directed and choreographed the original trilogy. While fans have expressed that it wouldn’t be the same without the talent behind Hocus Pocus and Fox’s upcoming The Rocky Horror Picture Show, it shouldn’t be the same. In a recent interview with EW, Ortega himself said of the potential for another film, “[It certainly wouldn’t happen] with the original cast, but hopefully down the road there’s a new generation of High School Musical. Wouldn’t that be fun?” Hornaday knows his way around Disney Channel, having helmed the Teen Beach Movie franchise, so he seems like a great choice, provided that he is able to infuse all the fun and teen angst (scream, Troy!) we need.

The Characters

Ortega is right — the new film would need a different cast, and those actors should be in roles unlike any seen in the series. The previous installments featured sporty, academic, and theatrical kids to start, many of whom defied the status quo. Basketball player Troy (Efron) and decathlete Gabriella (Vanessa Hudgens) are the biggest examples of that, as they come together over a mutual love of music and audition for the school’s musical (Troy’s teammate Zeke is another, because he loves to bake. Crème brûlée, anyone?). With this installment, it’d be great to have an LGBT couple as the romantic leads, or an exchange student as the trouble-stirrer; we’ll take any fresh, unexpected characters at center stage (pun very much intended).

The Returning Cast

The above said, there have got to be some returning cast members. What is a reboot without some sort of homage and inclusion of the people that started it all? In an ideal world, there be some involvement from all of the original, main characters — Troy, Gabriella, Sharpay (Ashley Tisdale), Ryan (Lucas Grabeel), Taylor (Monique Coleman), and Chad (Corbin Bleu) — in ways big or small. But at the top of my wish list is Sharpay returning as the drama teacher, because she’d be the perfect follow-up to Ms. Darbus (Alyson Reed), and it’d be so great to have a cameo from Troy and Gabriella. Are either likely? Maybe not, but let’s try to work this out …

The Songs (And Choreography)

As far as the actual music, there have to be a few big numbers and some slower ballads, of course. Beyond that, since the first entry premiered 10 years ago, what could set the tunes apart for the better would be for them to reflect music today. That’s not to say that it should be drowning in contemporary styles, because that will immediately date it, but little, modern touches would be a nice reflection of the time that’s passed. As far as the choreography, there’s got to be some simple, but bold moves that are easy to recreate — like the “All for One” dance — because you can never have too many party tricks, right?

What do you think of the above, and what do you want to see from High School Musical 4? Leave your comments below because, you know, we’re all in this together.

High School Musical 4
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