"High School Musical" Stars Corbin Bleu and Monique Coleman Reteam for Lifetime's "A Christmas Dance Reunion"

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Cover image for  article: "High School Musical" Stars Corbin Bleu and Monique Coleman Reteam for Lifetime's "A Christmas Dance Reunion"

It's been fifteen years since Corbin Bleu and Monique Coleman first sang and danced their way into pop culture via the Disney Channel hit movie High School Musical. The duo, who have remained firm friends since, are hoping to recapture some of that magic, and no doubt thrill fans, as they reunite for Lifetime's A Christmas Dance Reunion. "Honestly, getting to work on this project settled so many dreams coming true," Bleu (pictured at top with Coleman) recently said while promoting the film. "It was October of 2020 when we went to shoot it, so coming on the tail end of quarantine, and not working for some time, and it was also election time, there was a lot of chaos. [Then] all of a sudden we got to go to Toronto, Canada, and get out of the U.S. for a minute.

"And Monique and I got to reunite in this film!" he continued. "We haven't been on screen together in years, and when I tell you every single moment on set was just comfort … Watching the film and looking at just how easy the romance comes and how easy the connection came, that was real. It's truly a wonderful thing to be able to work with a person that you love from the bottom of your heart. I could go on and on."

"I think Corbin really said it well," Coleman added. "The thing is, we felt like we were safe and comfortable. That’s such an important part of telling any story, making sure that you have that connection. Our lives didn't begin with High School Musical. Obviously, that is an amazing part of our journey, and a peak we will always be so proud of and excited to talk about, but this story, to me, brought the two of us back further than where we were when High School Musical started.

"Corbin started dancing when he was two or three years old, and I started dancing in the fourth grade," she continued. "So, it brought us back to the roots of who we are and reminded me that I danced as a kid. Fast forward to today; to be able to bring all of who we are together and for that to be on screen. It absolutely captures the High School Musical magic, but I also think this movie is going to do something really special and allow you to get to know Corbin and me in a way that you probably honestly haven't seen."

A Christmas Dance Reunion follows Lucy Mortimer (Coleman), a successful attorney, and her mother (Kim Roberts) as they head to the (soon-to-be-closed) Winterleigh Resort to celebrate the holidays and recapture some cherished moments of the place where she danced as a child. Upon arrival, Lucy reunites with the owner's nephew Barrett Brewster (Bleu), her childhood dance partner. Overwhelmed by feelings of nostalgia, Lucy decides to revive the once-beloved Christmas Dance, in the hope of reinvigorating interest in the resort, bringing in new families and reigniting a love she once had.

"There are a lot of meta moments with this movie and a lot of art-mimics-life and vice versa," Bleu explained. "Both of the characters in this are just so rooted in realism. They both found this love of dance at an early age and getting to dance with [Mo] -- who's gone on to do just such incredible wonderful things like being a U.N. Ambassador -- her getting a chance to also re-find a joy of dance and the love in it was incredible. I started dancing [at] about two years old with tap and ballet, and that was always my first love. Dance was always my form of expression, and to this day it comes naturally. On top of it, my wife, Sasha Clements, is another lead in the film. So, there was just all this love, just this lovefest on camera and on set."

While the dance element of the project was easy for Bleu, for Coleman it came with a new set of challenges. "Yes, learning the dances was challenging," she laughed. "Spending two weeks in quarantine and then going from basically zero to hero, having not worked pretty much all year, having definitely not danced or been in a studio at all, and I turned 40! I was like, 'My knees aren’t capable of doing this!'" … which is hilarious because that's something my character [mentions]. But at the end of the day, this was supposed to be fun, and if there was anything I felt I couldn't do, I knew that I was safe with Corbin."

"Another thing so special and beautiful about A Christmas Dance Reunion is that you have [this] family," she added. "These people are different shades of Black and not just one note or one tone. To be these characters that aren’t supporting someone else's story, but [are] the story, is exciting. It has been wonderful to watch the industry catch up, and personally, be able to make stronger and different choices about how I want to be presented. I feel like there's a lot more room, not just amongst racial diversity, but also diversity within a race. I think oftentimes, I've been cast in roles that someone could perceive as a 'token role,' and [was] just fulfilling the diversity quota. But there's so much diversity within being Black, so, it's very exciting to see what the possibilities are now that these other universes are opening up."

"Diversity within diversity is so important," Bleu concurred. "In this movie, there's representation with the LGBTQIA community, in age and differently-abled. I grew up watching the MGM classic musicals and never really got a chance to see representation of myself. If I was watching someone of color, then it was 'the token' and the phrases coming out of [their] mouths, or the kind of demeanor was a very specific category. Or they were there because the driving force of their storyline was because they're Black. It has to do with their struggle. It has to do with the fact they're not represented. We have romance stories too. We have positivity without the struggle as well, and that struggle is always there because we aren't represented in that way. But we'll only see those stories if that's what's continued to be told.

"So that's why, to me, [this] was such a beautiful experience and really important," he added in closing. "I want to see more of it. Mo and I need to do more of that together."

A Christmas Dance Reunion will be telecast Friday, December 3 at 8 p.m. on Lifetime.

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