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  • Writer's pictureKristyn Burtt

Is 'Julie and the Phantoms' the New 'High School Musical?'

On Sept. 10, Netflix is launching the first series that is a part of Kenny Ortega's massive production deal, Julie and the Phantoms. The story focuses on Julie (Madison Reyes), a high school student who has lost her passion for music after her mom passes away. That dream is revived when she meets three ghosts from 1995 (Charlie Gillespie, Owen Patrick Joyner, Jeremy Shada) in her mom's music studio, who help spark a friendship and the desire to start singing again.

The casting directors auditioned over 700 young performers to find their cast. They even asked students from the top 100 performing arts high schools in the country to submit. It was in Lehigh Valley Charter High School in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where they found 14-year-old Reyes.

The cast had a month-long boot camp, where they trained in acting, singing dancing and instrument lessons. During that time, Gillespie and Reyes asked Ortega if the series could have a duet similar to Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens' "Can I Have This Dance?" in High School Musical. As a result, the duo wrote "Perfect Harmony" together.

Ortega and choreographer Paul Becker came up with a fantastic sequence that required the two actors to train in salsa, swing and ballroom dance. The final dance scene is reminiscent of 1987's Dirty Dancing, which Ortega choreographed. And yes, the Dirty Dancing lift makes an appearance in the final episode.

For Descendants 3 fans, viewers will recognize a few cast members joining Julie and the Phantoms including Booboo Stewart, Cheyenne Jackson and Jadah Marie. The nine-episode series is going to be a show viewers won't want to miss. Ortega is not only an executive producer on the project, he co-choreographed the project with Becker and directed five episodes.

Before you go, learn more about Derek Piquette, who danced in some of the Julie and the Phantoms episodes.


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