Olivia Rodrigo Will Get A ‘Meaningful Sendoff’ In High School Musical Season 3, Per The Show’s Creator

If you’ve been a fan of High School Musical: The Musical - The Series from its early days in 2019, then you've watched Olivia Rodrigo and Joshua Bassett’s Nini and Ricky become the leads of a production of the High School Musical musical whilst showcasing their talents. Since she started on HSMTMTS, Rodrigo has become one of the most popular performers in music, between her mega-hits like “drivers license” and “Good 4 U.” Amid the show dropping its feelings-inducing Season 3 premiere, fans have wondered what would become of Nini, given Rodrigo's rising star. Well, yes, she's stepping back but will get a "meaningful sendoff." 

As previously announced, Olivia Rodrigo will no longer be a regular cast member in Season 3. Rodrigo has been named a “guest star” on the show, as actors like Matt Cornett and Frankie Rodriguez transition from being supporting characters to leads of the series. That being said, Rodrigo's Nini has an arc during this season of the Disney+ series. When CinemaBlend chatted with HSMTMTS creator Tim Federle, he spoke to Rodrigo’s role moving forward.  

There was never gonna be a Season Three without Olivia, but I think that we have such a talented cast to have such rabid fans who adore them, that I felt like there was this natural opportunity to give Olivia a really meaningful sendoff and celebrate Olivia as she goes off and dominates the entire world with her music, while also watching characters played by amazing performers like Sophia Wylie, Dara Renee and Julia Lester and new characters played by Saylor Bell and Adrian Lyles… It ultimately wasn't that hard. It was like saying, ‘Hey, come shoot this and then go off and run the world. We're gonna have fun this season at summer camp’. And it all just sort of worked out.

As Tim Federle shared with us, they weren’t going to phase out Nini without an explanation. In fact, it seems that they never would have done Season 3 without the Grammy-winning performer. It my be hard for some fans to accept that Rodrigo is definitely moving away from her Disney era to become a full-time singer, yet it's still comforting to know that she'll receive a sendoff that's fitting for her character. 

During this latest season, Nini goes on a road trip with her moms, as many of her classmates go off to a theater camp called Camp Shallow Lake to put on a production of Frozen. At the camp, they meet High School Musical royalty in Corbin Bleu, who plays a version of himself that's a “bit of an ass.” It also features Disney alum Jason Earles (who spoke to us about a possible Hannah Montana revival) as a camp counselor, and Dancing with the StarsJojo Siwa is also set to guest star later in the season. 

As Olivia Rodrigo moves on, seemingly after this season, HSMTMTS will allow more of its cast to shine and tell different stories in the process. The series is bursting with young talent, as Tim Federle shared and, this season, there’s even more bad blood as well as the East High kids meet some new talents at camp. 

The first two episodes of High School Musical: The Musical - The Series Season 3, “Happy Campers” and “Into the Unknown,” are currently available to stream with a Disney+ subscription. More episodes of HSMTMTS are coming to Disney+ on Wednesdays in August, and they'll run through mid-September. 

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.