Bleu said that “High School Musical” was lightning fast… and that one of the major causes was us.” “So, to be back on set and to see Mo’s potential and how we work together… that was a reminder about why what we did in past became what it is today.”
Coleman and Bleu reunite in “A Christmas Dance Reunion”, a Lifetime holiday movie, more than ten years after their last film “High School Musical.” It premieres Friday. The flick is a feel-good movie that stars longtime friends Lucy and Barrett as childhood dance partners. They reunite as adults to perform a spontaneous winter show and fall in love.
In Disney’s “High School Musical” trilogy Coleman and Bleu were the love interests of Taylor McKessie (an academic genius) and Chad Danforth (a basketball star), who were respectively best friends of romance leads Gabriella Montez ( Vanessa Udgens ) and Troy Bolton(Zac Efron).
Lifetime’s decision to reteam Coleman (41), and Bleu (32) for “A Christmas Dance Reunion”, follows a tried-and true casting formula for the network. The network has been deliberately reuniting castmates in its holiday programming starting at least 2017.
Lifetime also reunited cast members from “The Brady Bunch”, and Showtime’s” Seventeen Again this year. Hallmark Channel, its largest holiday TV channel, has brought together actors from “The Wonder Years”, “Fuller House,” and “Back to the Future.”
“As everyone’s lately… jumping on to the bandwagon Christmas movies has, we’ve really been in a position to isolate what our audiences love,” stated Tanya Lopez (executive vice president of scripted programming, Lifetime).
They love to see their friends get together again — the people they used to watch in their living rooms. They love the fact that they still look great. They are still fun. It’s like going back to high school and enjoying the best of it.
Both Lopez and Lisa Hamilton Daly (Hallmark counterpart), agreed that nostalgia is an important force in holiday TV movies, especially those that draw on viewers’ memories of small-screen flames to create new yuletide fantasies.
Lifetime’s May announcement that Bleu and Coleman would play love interests in “A Christmas Dance Reunion” was met with a swift and enthusiastic fan response. Coleman tweeted photos of Bleu and her in “High School Musical,” and the Lifetime project received more than 770,000 likes. This is a staggering number even considering viral Twitter standards.
Lopez stated that the reaction has been passionate than any she’s seen for the nearly dozen holiday movies made by the network with former co-stars in the past four years. She said this except perhaps 2019’s “A Christmas Wish,” which will feature the ensemble of “One Tree Hill.”
The enthusiasm is not limited to social media. Coleman was at a Hollywood event to promote the movie “King Richard” and approached one of the children actors. She reminded Coleman of her younger self, thrust into the spotlight and poised for a career break.
Coleman was then told by the actor that Taylor McKessie was her role model growing-up.
“We are proud to be a part of such a loved franchise and we also know the significance of the name High School Musical.” Coleman stated that we were “the best friends” again. “To see people emerge from the woodwork and say, ‘I’ve loved you always.’ It’s not something I knew at the time. It’s really nice to have a platform where people can express themselves.
Talented people are eager to relive that special time in their lives.
Daly stated that such pairings are “excited to be together again.” “If they have chemistry onscreen, it’s often because they had chemistry in real life. … Nostalgia is for everyone. Even those who create nostalgia can benefit from it.”
In their case, Coleman and Bleu have been close ever since “High School Musical.” They FaceTimed one another immediately after learning that Bleu had been cast in “A Christmas Dance Reunion.” Coleman accepted Lifetime’s offer to play the role without reading the script.
Coleman and Bleu, who were once dance partners, are very similar to their characters. They love the opportunity to perform together again. The similarities do not end there. Both of them took a break from performing, and began other professional endeavors.
Lucy’s injury spurred her to become an attorney, while Coleman’s venture into youth activism was a result of post-High School Musical disillusionmentment with the entertainment industry. Coleman was not invited to the press tour for the final installment in the blockbuster series.
Although she doesn’t harbor any resentment towards Disney or her East High classmates, it led to a profound realization.
Coleman stated that it was quite a difficult time. Coleman said, “We had done all of this together up to that point. That was the first time I realized it was a business. It wasn’t personal. We had done something amazing but we would have to move on.”
“Because that was my experience, I realized that this won’t last. This will all pass. That was a fast realization.
Coleman joined the United Nations in 1993 as its first Youth Champion. He also launched Gimme Mo’, an organization that raises awareness on issues facing youth.
She said, “As a young artist and as a developing person, it was confusing and distressing to feel like, ‘Wow…just like that, I can be left behind.’” “That is precisely what led me to say, ‘If I have five minutes of fame — and if that is all I get — then I want it to be used to make someone feel and believe that they can achieve the dreams they desire.
Bleu’s stage career is similar to Barrett’s in “A Christmas Dance.” His most prominent credits include Jesus of Godspell, Usnavi from “In the Heights,” Seaweed and Seaweed from “Hairspray,” Sky from “Mamma Mia!” Don Lockwood (Singin’ In the Rain) and Ted Hanover (Holiday Inn).
However, his auditions onscreen followed a predictable pattern.
Bleu stated that even with all the success of “High School Musical”, “the roles that would be filled were still for… my best friend.”
He continued, “Or even if the lead role was played by a Black actor, the driving force behind the storyline was that they were Black.” It was about the struggle to be Black.”
The experience of reuniting can also be a positive for aesthetics. Coleman and Bleu, both of whom recall feeling afraid earlier in their careers to speak up or make mistakes on set, said they felt more confident in their new collaboration.
Bleu, who has been tap dancing since the age of 2 years, asked Brian Herzlinger during rehearsals if they could incorporate his skills in the film. This led to his first ever onscreen tap solo.
If “A Christmas Dance Reunion”, which is a late-released version of “High School Musical”, disappoints “High School Musical” fans who were disappointed that Taylor and Chad never had the love story they wanted, then so be it. It’s all part and parcel of the charm.
Bleu stated, “It’s wonderful to see these onscreen partners that move from project to project.” “Even if they’re reuniting with different characters, you can see that they have real love every time they do so.
“A Christmas Dance Reunion”
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