EXCLUSIVE: Newcomer Rueby Wood (Broadway’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), Aria Brooks (Harriet) and Joshua Bassett (High School Musical: The Musical: The Series) have signed on to star alongside Lisa Kudrow in Disney+’s musical comedy adaptation of Tim Federle’s award-winning novel, Better Nate Than Ever.
The family film written and directed by Federle centers on 13 year-old Pittsburgher Nate Foster (Wood), who, together with fellow theater kid Libby (Brooks), sneaks off to a major musical audition in New York City after not being cast in their school musical. Wood landed its title role following a nationwide search.
Bassett will play Nate’s older brother, Anthony, with Kudrow as his long-lost aunt Heidi.
Marc Platt (La La Land, Cruella) and Adam Siegel are producing, with Federle exec producing. The film is being overseen by Disney Studios’ live-action production team.
“From the moment Rueby Wood auditioned with a song from WICKED, I knew he had the true theater-kid spirit to bring Nate’s story to vivid, living color. Aria Brooks is a star on the rise whose comedic chemistry with Rueby was undeniable from day one,” said Federle. “NATE is a story about dreaming big, and it was a dream to have these newcomers joined by Joshua Bassett as Nate’s older brother Anthony, alongside the incredible Lisa Kudrow as their aunt Heidi.”
Federle is currently showrunning Disney+’s hit series, High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, which will soon enter production on its third season and is credited for launching the songwriting career of pop star, Olivia Rodrigo. He has also been tapped to direct Sister Act 3 for Disney, with Whoopi Goldberg returning. His other works as a writer include the Oscar-nominated animated feature Ferdinand, the Better Nate Than Ever novel sequels, global bestseller, Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist, and the Tony-nominated Broadway musical, Tuck Everlasting.
Wood is an actor, singer and dancer who starred as Charlie in the first national Broadway tour of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, from 2018-2019. He also previously portrayed Michael Banks in a Syracuse Stage production of Mary Poppins, and has lent his voice to a variety of digital media.
Brooks last appeared on the big screen with a pivotal role in the award-winning film Harriet, opposite Cynthia Erivo. Her breakout came as a series regular in Nickelodeon’s All That, a reboot of the classic ’90s comedy series of the same name. She also guest-starred in the Netflix anthology series Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings. As a recording artist, she recently released the first installment of her debut EP castles pt. 1 under the moniker ARIA. It is available now on all streaming platforms, with castles pt. 2 set for release on November 26.
Bassett can currently be seen playing the lead role of Ricky in the Disney+’s High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. In addition to acting, playing and singing in the series, he has penned such original songs it as “Just for A Moment” and “The Perfect Gift.” Bassett signed with Warner Records in 2019 and debuted his original music in early 2020, continuing to release new music in the time since.
Wood is represented by Paradigm; Brooks by Paradigm, ESI Network, and Goodman, Genow, Schenkman; Bassett by UTA, Osbrink Talent Agency, Viewpoint and Jackoway Austen Tyerman; Kudrow by CAA and attorney Mark A. Gochman; Federle by CAA, Authentic Talent and Literary Management, The Book Group and Jackoway Austen Tyerman.