There’s lots to come from our favorite East High Wildcats! The High School Musical: The Musical: The Series cast exclusively tells J-14 that there’s “lots of character development” throughout the show’s third season.

“Both Ashlyn and Carlos are, in this moment, pretty codependent on their boyfriends. So, it’s been really interesting to see how they tackle being alone for the first time in a while and having two weeks to themselves without their significant others with them,” Julia Lester — who plays Ashlyn — tells J-14 about her character. As the third season starts, Ashlyn heads to Camp Shallow Lake without Big Red (Larry Saperstein), who stayed back in Utah. The character’s onscreen BFF Carlos (Frankie Rodriguez) is also without his boyfriend, Seb (Joe Serafini).

“I think for Carlos, it’s definitely a time to really focus on himself and, kind of, figure out where he wants to fit in with the spotlight. As we saw last season, he definitely was in this leading character,” Frankie explains. “So, I think he’s carrying some of that over into a new setting and he’s wondering how that’s gonna work out for him.”

Dara Reneé‘s character, Kourtney, is also joining her friends at Camp Shallow Lake and going through some growing pains of her own.

“Kourtney is just you know, stepping out of her comfort zone this season. She does not do trees. She does not do woods. Very much likes the mall to be within walking distance. So it’s a little different,” the actress tells J-14. “She just learns that it’s OK to step out of your comfort zone, have fun, be vulnerable and just enjoy the friends that you have. I was really excited to talk about certain topics with my character, especially anxiety. She really goes through that this season, and I go through that too. So to be able to bring that to the screen and to show that representation was really dope and also bringing some humor to Kourtney this season, I love it.”

'High School Musical: The Musical: The Series' Cast Teases 'Lots of Character Development' in Seaso
Disney/Anne Marie Fox

Matt Cornett, for his part, tells J-14 that his character, E.J., plans “to have fun” at camp before he’s thrust into a surprising new role.

“He has to start focusing on that, which then pulls away from the other things he wanted to focus on. So, he starts to get quite overwhelmed with things and not really sure how to handle those things,” the actor explains. “I feel like he, in a couple moments, starts to kind of revert back to season 1 E.J. … Overall, I think it’s a great season for him and I think there’s a lot for him to learn.”

One thing that helped the cast experience growth with their characters was the new setting. Instead of being at East High, a bulk of season 3 takes place in the wilderness.

“I think that being put in these new environments, not only challenged our characters in the show, but also challenged us as actors and as friends, and how we would bond in this new setting,” Julia explains. “We really lived a true camp life and we would, you know, picnic out on the lawn and have lunch together and get really sunburned and bitten by bugs. It was so nostalgic feeling and so wonderful.”

The High School Musical: The Musical: The Series season 3 premiere episode is now streaming on Disney+.

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