Joshua Bassett talks Ricky's 'Bet on It' in HSMTMTS: 'I'm not trying to live up to Zac Efron'
"I was a little bit intimidated that I was going to not do it justice," Bassett tells EW of his performance in the season 2 premiere.
Warning: This article contains mild spoilers about the season 2 premiere of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series (now streaming on Disney+).
Ask and you shall receive. After more than a year of tweets asking to see Ricky Bowen do "Bet n It" on High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, that's exactly what we got in the season 2 premiere — and then some.
Before the East High theater kids found out the next school musical would be Beauty and the Beast, they all assumed the logical follow up to High School Musical would be High School Musical 2. So Ricky (Joshua Bassett) prepared for auditions by learning all the lyrics to Troy Bolton's big solo performance in the sequel film ... and he even went so far as to learn all of the original choreography from the movie as well. He performed every single one of the steps from Zac Efron's iconic "Bet on It" dance — wild arm movements and all — in front of his BFF Big Red (Larry Saperstein) as a run-through for his audition, and it was equal parts impressive and hilarious all at the same time.
"I sang that live so I was running on the treadmill for like two weeks before, almost every day," Bassett tells EW. "I tried to sing it three to five times on the treadmill so that I would have the stamina."
In preparation to film that performance, Bassett reveals he watched the scene from the movie "way too many times" before working with choreographer Zach Woodlee to learn all the movements. "I was so excited when I heard we were doing this. That's the dream," he says. "It was fun working with Zach on recreating the dance but obviously in a totally different space and having to navigate what that would look like in your basement. It was super fun, we were just having a good time messing around. I think we did 30 takes of it so I was pretty exhausted by the end."
And when Bassett heard he'd be doing the original choreography, he was "stoked" because he knew how much that would mean to fans. "I kept seeing on Twitter somebody being like, 'Josh better sing 'Bet on It' in season 2,' and I remember being like, can you imagine?," he says with a laugh. "When I found out it was happening, I was like, 'Oh my gosh, pinch me.'"
But then the nerves set in. "I was a little bit intimidated that I was going to not do it justice," Bassett admits. "But once I realized that I'm not supposed to be doing it justice and it's really just Ricky trying his best — I'm not trying to live up to Zac Efron's performance or Troy — then I was like, we can just have fun with this one. But it was definitely a little intimidating at first."
When it came to Troy's certain, ah, technique in this song, Bassett laughs at how iconic the running, jumping, and spinning movements have become. "Oh man, he does these weird hand movements, I don't even know," he says before laughing again. "Man, he does some weird stuff, I don't know where they came up with that."
And there was one specific move that Bassett will never forget doing in this scene. "There's a point where Ricky is holding two drumsticks and he jumps with both of his feet in the air and Zach Woodlee and I called that 'stomping baby,'" he reveals. "Because I had to do it like a giant pouting baby where I was jumping up and down like a monkey. It was insane. It's such a random dance when you actually watch what Zac's doing in the movie, you're like, 'What are you on?! What are you doing?' It was interesting learning all that weird stuff but just a blast. I tried my best."
Looking past the season 2 premiere (now streaming on Disney+), there's another song that Bassett loved performing and can't wait for fans to see. "There's a song later in the in the season that that Ricky sings," he teases. "I don't know if I'm allowed to give it away, but he sings it on piano, I'll tell you that much. It was really cool because I actually got to play piano and sing it live. It was just really neat to do that. I don't think we've seen Ricky play the piano yet so that was really special to record."
He laughs again as he adds, "There's just so much to look forward to, it's stupid. This season is just another level. Everyone stepped up their game so much. I'm stoked for people to see it."
Check out the studio recording of Bassett's "Bet on It" below now:
New episodes of HSMTMTS stream Fridays on Disney+.
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High School Musical: The Musical: The Series