A new episode of "High School Musical: The Musical: The Series" debuts Wednesday, executive producer Tim Federle drew on his experience performing on a high school stage while creating the show.
The Disney+ series is about "theater kids," made by a former theater kid in Federle.
After two seasons spent in Utah at the high school the franchise made famous, the show locale moved to a sleepaway camp for Season 3.
"You let your guard down in the summer, and anything can happen," Federle said.
He also tapped into his own experiences as a theater summer camper.
"I played a very unmemorable Daddy Warbucks in 'Annie' when I was 12, and my voice hadn't changed," he said. "I forgot half my lines on opening night, but it was super memorable."
It was so memorable that just like the kids in the "High School Musical" series, his whole life changed.
"It was the Poconos, and I came back to Pittsburgh and realized that I probably wanted to grow up and do theater for a living," Federle said.
His show is light and entertaining, but there's more than just a kernel of truth because Federle has lived much of what his characters experience.
Summer camp still retains its magic for him all these years later.
"You get to play yourself for the first time, because maybe back home nobody accepts you for exactly the way you are," Federle said. "If you go to a theater camp or anywhere you are surrounded by like-minded souls, you finally get to be yourself."
That is precisely what happened to him.
"Because I discovered the theater so young that even though my school days were terrible and I was bullied and picked on and thrown in the lockers, after school I got to go hang out with all the theater dorks," he said. "And together, we weren't dorks. We were a club, and that club changed my life."
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