Creator Tim Federle confirmed that he reached out to Efron, 35, Hudgens, 34, and Tisdale, 38, about reprising their respective roles in the finale season of the Disney+ spinoff series.
“Ashley called me personally and was so lovely. She’s very busy launching brands and it just wasn’t the right timing,” the executive producer 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.”
High School Musical, which released three films from 2006 to 2008, followed the love story between Troy (Efron) and Gabriella (Hudgens). The couple, who came from different cliques, formed a connection while taking part in the school musical.
Tisdale’s character, Sharpay, also appeared in 2011 spinoff film Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure, but the actress has since discussed her hesitance about returning to the role.
“I just feel like I wouldn’t be able to really do that again and give it justice,” Tisdale told Entertainment Tonight in August 2021. “You know what I’m saying? I think at that moment in time, I was very unaware of myself and my surroundings, and I feel like that’s a big part of Sharpay. She is just not really aware, and so as I grew up and became more aware, I think that it’s just something that it wouldn’t be the same. It’s so good, and it’s like, for me, I would hate to ruin something that is perfect for that moment, and yeah, I don’t think I could go back to it.”
Hudgens, for her part, also admitted that she was apprehensive about taking part in HSMTMTS.
“It was such a beautiful moment in time that so many people do hold so close and near and dear to their hearts, that I don’t know [if I’d return],” she told ET in November 2021. “It’s scary to mess with something like that, because it is so beloved. Someone’s got to write a script and send it to all of us, and if we like it, then who knows?”
Troy, Gabriella and Sharpay also got shout-outs on the show, with the characters revealing, “It is our 15-year high school reunion [in the fourth High School Musical movie]. Chad is married to Taylor, Martha is a world-class choreographer, Troy and Gabriella are now in couples therapy, Ryan is happily partnered with twins on the way and the future of the East High drama department is on the line.”
“We always keep the fans in mind because we know they are why we are on the air and we want them to be satisfied,” Federle exclusively told Us Weekly about the final season. “And also, you want to surprise people, do some twists and trust your own storyteller heart. Because I think if you try to please everybody, you don’t end up pleasing anybody.”
The fourth and final season of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series is streaming on Disney+.