Kenny Ortega Talks Reuniting ‘High School Musical’ Cast Members For ‘Disney’s Family Singalong’; Zac Efron Joins ABC Special

Kenny Ortega Michael Buckner/Shutterstock

When ABC and Bob Iger asked High School Musical director Kenny Ortega to participate in the April 16 special, The Disney Family Singalong, he was immediately on board.

The original cast of ‘High School Musical’ in 2006: (L-R) Lucas Grabeel, Monique Coleman, Corbin Bleu, Ashley Tisdale, Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens

“I wanted to find something I can do to participate and it was so great to be given the call and invited by ABC to join,” Ortega told Deadline. “It gave me a purpose to get up every morning. I feel really good that we have an opportunity to do something like this — it’s good medicine. ”

That said, he asked actors and artists from his movies and TV series to participate in an epic performance of the High School Musical anthem “We’re All In This Together” for the special. Of the participants, he wrangled the East High Wildcats from High School Musical and Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Corbin Bleu, Monique Coleman and Lucas Grabeel — and all agreed to participate in one way or another. In a last-minute addition, Zac Efron agreed to come on board to send a message during the special.

“We couldn’t reach Zac until late but when we did, he immediately jumped in, of course,” Ortega said. “Everyone we reached out to was quick — and you’ll see it in their spirit and the way they come together from their homes. They recognize this is an opportunity to strengthen spirits for those joining us for the broadcast.”

In addition to the original six from the High School Musical, Ortega said that artists from the Disney family will be coming together from many different projects. This includes his Raven-Symoné who he worked with on Cheetah Girls and cast members from The Descendants, Zombies and High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.

Many will be performing “We’re All In This Together”, a phrase that has been a  motto during the current coronavirus pandemic. Ortega said, “You’re hearing those words chanted out — I’ve been sent videos from doctors, orderlies, nurses and medical professionals in masks and hospital gowns singing ‘We’re All In This Together’ in the hallways of hospitals.”

He added, “It’s a really nice fun coming together of a lot of young people that are banding together under the lyrics of this song for the show”

Ortega said that in addition to the videos of medical professionals singing the song, ther are countless videos from people all over the world filming themselves singing the popular song. “I think Ashley [Tisdale] started this whole movement with her home video,” he said. “I can’t imagine that Matthew Gerrard and Robbie Nevil, who wrote this song, had any idea that it would have the legs and perhaps mean more now than when we first did it.”

“These artists that have come together are heroes,” he continued. “There are young people out there that look up to these people and have for a long time. To see them in their own living rooms and in their sweatpants hanging out with their families helps everyone realize there’s truth behind these words — we’re all in this together in various circumstances. We need to feel that company.”

The performance of “We’re All In this Together” is a recent addition to The Disney Family Singalong which will be hosted by Ryan Seacrest on April 16 at 8pm ET on ABC. The nationwide singalong event will also feature Christina Aguilera, Michael Bublé, Kristin Chenoweth, Auliʻi Cravalho, Amber Riley, John Stamos, Ariana Grande, Demi Lovato, Alan Menken, Elle Fanning, Josh Groban, Darren Criss, Tori Kelly and more. On top of that, James Monroe Iglehart and the Broadway Company of Disney’s Aladdin will reunite for a performance of Friend Like Me.

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