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How Disney+’s ‘HSMTMTS’ Jokes About Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens and Ashley Tisdale’s Absences

How Disney+ s HSMTMTS Jokes About Zac Efron Vanessa Hudgens and Ashley Tisdale s Absence 359
Zac Efron Vanessa Hudgens. Fred Hayes/The Disney Channel/Kobal/Shutterstock

High School Musical: The Musical: The Series season 4 didn’t include any cameos from Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens and Ashley Tisdale but Troy, Gabriella and Sharpay weren’t completely excluded from the narrative.

During the show’s final season, which started streaming on Wednesday, August 9, several cast members from the original High School musical series including Lucas Grabeel, Kaycee Stroh, Corbin Bleu, Monique Coleman, Alyson Reed and Bart Johnson reunited to film footage for a fictional fourth film.

In character as Coach Bolton in one scene, Johnson asked Stroh — playing her fictional character Martha — whether she’s seen Troy, Gabriella and Sharpay.

“Not yet, Coach. They have been silent in the group chat.,” Stroh replied.


Related: The Cast of 'High School Musical': Where Are They Now?

Later in the season, Bleu, and Coleman reveal plot details about the fictional fourth High School Musical film to the students at East High School. According to Coleman, Troy and Gabriella are in “couples therapy.

How Disney+ s HSMTMTS Jokes About Zac Efron Vanessa Hudgens and Ashley Tisdale s Absence 358
Zac Efron Vanessa Hudgens. Fred Hayes/The Disney Channel/Kobal/Shutterstock

The original High School Musical franchise followed Troy and Gabriella, two teenagers from completely different cliques, who bond over their love of music. Their love story, followed in three films from 2006 to 2008, is the backdrop for the film as their various friends take part in the school musical.

Tisdale’s character, Sharpay, also appeared in 2011 spinoff film Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure.

Before season 4 of HSMTMTS — which serves as a sequel to the film franchise — debuted, Efron sparked speculation he might appear on the Disney+ show when he surprised fans when he visited High School Musical’s East High. “Don’t you… Forget about me ✊🏼,” he wrote alongside a July 2022 Instagram photo of him posing in front of the school where the movies were filmed.

One month earlier, Efron’s ex-girlfriend Hudgens documented her own trip to East High, captioning an Instagram video, “Do you remember in kindergarten how you’d meet a kid and know nothing about them, then 10 seconds later you’re playing like you’re best friends because you didn’t have to be anything but yourself?”

HSMTMTS creator, Tim Federle, confirmed he reached out to Efron, Hudgens and Tisdale but a potential cameo didn’t work out.

‘High School Musical’ Cast Members Weigh In on Possible Returns to the Franchise: ‘My Heart Is Still There’

Related: Wildcats Forever? ‘High School Musical’ Cast Talk Returning to the Franchise

“Ashley called me personally and was so lovely. She’s very busy launching brands and it just wasn’t the right timing,” Federle told Trib Total Media on Friday, August 4. “And I got the feeling with Zac and Vanessa, who I don’t know personally but I’m a fan, reading the tea leaves, that by the time you get into negotiating what this would take, we’re gonna wrap and the show will be over.”

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Disney+/Craig Sjodin

During an exclusive chat with Us Weekly, Federle revealed that director Kenny Ortega was another OG he hoped to appear.

HSMTMTS Season 4 Is Staging a High School Musical Reunion Movie

Related: Everything to Know About 'HSMTMTS' Season 4

“It was so great to get the originals back because it launched their careers in such explosive ways. [That is] the same way I think some of the cast members of my show are getting launched into the world,” Federle exclusively shared with Us. “I loved seeing how humble and grateful and just cool they are now — as young adults — Corbin and Monique and Lucas. I really wanted to get Kenny Ortega back.”

He added: “I called Kenny. He was super busy on a project. He could not have been more gracious. I said, ‘Do you want to come back and play Kenny?’ And he was like, ‘It’s the coolest idea. I can’t.’ He was editing a documentary. Kenny’s on my bucket list. [I’ve] got to collaborate with Kenny someday. But I’m really satisfied with how we wrapped up the whole show.”

The fourth and final season of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series is streaming on Disney+.

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