Will The High School Musical Series Continue Without Olivia Rodrigo?

When ‘High School Musical: The Musical: The Series’ was renewed for a third season last year, many wondered whether its star Olivia Rodrigo would return to East High.

The singer was cast in the role of Nini Salazar-Roberts in 2019 prior to the show debuting its first season in November of the same year. She returned for a second season, premiered in May 2021, a week after Rodrigo released her first album ‘Sour’ that would skyrocket her popularity well beyond the Disney show.


While fans may rest relatively easy knowing that the ‘drivers license’ singer will appear in the upcoming third installment of ‘High School Musical,’ set to air later this month, Rodrigo’s status on the show have changed going from season two to season three.

Is Olivia Rodrigo Still A Series Regular On High School Musical: The Musical: The Series?

Earlier this year, Disney+ confirmed that Rodrigo would return to the series but only as a recurring guest.

The ‘deja vu’ singer’s music career has soared since the series premiered in 2019, meaning that her schedule has filled up with tour dates alongside her set days. Unfortunately for fans, this means that Nini scenes on the show are reduced, too. That the cast was up for a shakeup became apparent in the second season, when Rodrigo’s character left East High to attend a performing arts school in Denver, and mainly participated through calls before returning for the final episodes.

Alongside Rodrigo, the upcoming third series will also see the return of series regulars, including Joshua Bassett, Sofia Wylie, Matt Cornett, Julia Lester, Dara Reneé, Frankie Rodriguez, Saylor Bell Curda and Adrian Lyles.

Rodrigo On Returning To High School Musical After Viral Single

Last year, Rodrigo discussed returning to set after ‘drivers license’ was released in January 2021.

“It was sort of a strange experience because ‘drivers license’ came out and debuted at No. 1 — and it’s still No. 1 today which is crazy — but it was really awesome to be able to go to the set and have things be totally normal,” she told ‘Entertainment Weekly’ in March 2021.

“It helps me keep my head on straight.”

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The singer also credited her music and her career for having booster her confidence on set, giving her the courage to write her own music for the show.

“The success of the music I’ve put out recently has given me a lot of confidence as a writer and in the other songs that I’ve written like ‘The Rose Song,'” she said.

“I think it’s one of the best songs I’ve written. It’s this really intricate metaphor and I’ve never written a song like that before.”

Olivia Rodrigo Talks About Nini’s Arc On High School Musical: The Series

Discussing Nini’s arc in season two, where she and Ricky (Bassett) break up in episode eight, Rodrigo seemed pleased to see her character finally free of being defined by the boys she has dated.

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“I’ve always struggled with identity and that only gets more confusing when you start to introduce boys into the equation, which was what Nini is going through and what I’m still going through,” Rodrigo said.

“It was really important for me to write a song with a message that you’re so much more than what boys think of you. That was something that I actually needed to hear myself in that time. I’m really proud of that song,” she continued, talking about ‘The Rose Song’.

“One of my favorite things about season 2 is Nini’s character arc and her growth is not related to boys at all,” the singer added.

“She’s her own new person and learning her own lessons and all of that is sort of sans boys.”

“Nini is finding her footing in this crazy world and finding out what she likes and how she wants to be treated and that’s something that Olivia is also discovering as well,” she finally said.

At the end of the second season, Nini and Ricky reconcile and agree to be friends, while Nini is committed to focus on her music career.

The Future Of High School Musical: The Series

The third series will see a change of scenery. The protagonists will leave Salt Lake City behind to temporarily relocate to Camp Shallow Lake in California. There, the Wildcats will be putting on a production of ‘Frozen’, with music from ‘Camp Rock’ and the ‘High School Musical’ franchises also performed throughout the season.

Related: The Real Reason The Cast Of ‘High School Musical’ Wasn’t More Diverse

For the truly nostalgic, this season will see a cameo from one of the show’s OG stars: Corbin Bleu, who played Chad Danforth in the film series, will return in the role. But he isn’t the only guest star that ‘HSMTMTS’ has up its sleeve this season. ‘Modern Family’ star Jesse Tyler Ferguson and dancer JoJo Siwa are expected to make an appearance, as the trailer suggested.

The clip also includes several scenes with Rodrigo, meaning that Nini’s arc hasn’t reached its conclusion yet. It is entirely possible that the show will see the departure of Rodrigo this third season, but with such a vast cast of characters and new, exciting guest stars, there is the potential to continue for a few more seasons, provided ratings won’t dramatically plummet.

‘High School Musical: The Musical: The Series’ season three premieres on Disney+ on July 27. A fourth season has been confirmed.

Next: Is The Cast Of ‘High School Musical’ Still Friends?

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