Since Series 1 of the award-winning show High School Musical: The Musical – The Series, Joe Serafini has played Seb and has continued in the role over the years, with Series 3 currently being released weekly on Disney+. Alongside acting, Joe is also a singer, and he is hosting his debut solo show this Sunday, 14th August, at The Green Room 42 in New York, and he trained at the University of Michigan studying Musical Theatre. Speaking with Joe, he chatted to us about being in the cast of the original Disney+ show High School Musical: The Musical – The Series, playing Seb over the years and his upcoming show at The Green Room 42.
Can you tell us about your character Seb in High School Musical: The Musical – The Series and what is he like to play?
Seb is a wide-eyed, innocent farm boy, who finds his tribe in the drama department at East High School. He’s so much fun to play! Getting to play a theatre kid as a real-life theatre kid is a dream come true.
How much did you know about the original High School Musical franchise before auditioning and do you remember how you felt finding out you’d booked the role of Seb?
I was a super big fan of the original HSM franchise. I remember having a HSM-themed birthday party at a bowling alley when I was a kid! When I found out I’d booked Seb, I was over the moon. It all happened SO fast, and I just couldn’t believe I was on my way to film the next chapter of the franchise at the REAL East High School, creating a character for the next generation of theatre kids!
How has it been developing the character over the years and how was it returning to film the new Series 3?
Getting to grow with Seb has been such a wonderful journey – I feel like I’ve learned things about myself alongside him. Returning for Season 3 and being back with the Wildcats was such a treat – It’s always a good time on set with this show.
What’s it like performing the musical numbers in the show and have you had a favourite scene or episode to film?
The musical numbers are so epic to me. Growing up, any time there was a musical number in a movie or on a TV show, I was always blown away by the spectacle of it all. To now be on the other side of it is all the more spectacular! My favourite musical number we filmed on the show so far is Stick to the Status Quo in Season 1 – that was just so full out and everywhere you looked, people were dancing their butts off. Plus, the fact that we filmed it in the East High gym was surreal.
How do you find the experience being on set of the series and working with the rest of the cast?
We say it all the time, but the cast really is such a family. I love them all so much, and I will support them all to the ends of the earth! It’s always good vibes, music, and lots of laughter.
What are some of your favourite memories and highlights from filming and working on High School Musical: The Musical – The Series so far?
My favourite memories come from the days where we’re all on set together filming big group scenes. Usually, there will be some great conversations, or games, or we’ll all end up singing/harmonising together… like true theatre kids.
Why would you recommend watching the show and who do you think it will appeal to?
I always say I feel like there is something in the show for everyone. Sure, it’s definitely probably more enjoyable for musical-lovers, but there are jokes and storylines that I think all audiences can identify with.
The series has proved very popular amongst viewers, what has it been like seeing the fan response?
The fan response is wild! I love seeing people’s thoughts and theories on what’s happening with all of the characters. Sometimes they’re way off, and other times they catch things that I don’t even catch!
On 14th August, you will be hosting your own show at The Green Room 42, what can audiences expect from the event?
It’s going to be a really fun night, where I’ll be singing from some of my favourite musicals and musical artists, as well as sharing stories about my life thus far. There might be some surprises along the way too…
What are you looking forward to for your debut solo show and how are you preparing for it?
I feel like sharing music with people is a type of love language for me, so I’m really just so excited to share it with people and have a good time with the band and the people in the crowd! I’ve been singing every day in preparation for it… I’m sure my neighbours are over all the songs by now.
What encouraged you to host your show and where does your love of singing come from?
I’ve been singing and playing the piano since I was seven – at this point, it’s something I feel I’m meant to do. I’m not sure where it will lead, but it felt like a step in the right direction for how I want to be showing up in the world. My love of singing comes from my family – I grew up hearing my dad sing in church, and all of my older siblings have been singing since I was born. So it’s always been a very natural way of expressing myself!
How did you get into acting and is it something you always wanted to do?
I started acting when I was seven as well. It’s something I never thought much about – I just sort of did it and loved it ever since.
Can you tell us about your training with University of Michigan’s Musical Theatre Department and about your performing career before booking High School Musical: The Musical – The Series?
University of Michigan’s Musical Theatre Department was an amazing place for me to grow into myself as a performer and a person. I feel like those years were so formative, and the education and opportunities they provide there are unmatched.
Before HSM, I felt like I was on track to be a theatre actor. As a kid, I had a short experience filming a pilot in Pittsburgh (where I’m from), and I loved it – but theatre always felt more accessible to me. Once I found myself on set for HSMTMTS, and I was building a character in a world with all these brilliant people – my world opened up in a big way, and I realised the possibilities are endless! I want to continue pursuing all the avenues.
What are some of your favourite films, TV and theatre shows to watch?
I finally watched Heartstopper recently and it was so beautiful, I loved it so much. My favourite musical has always been Into the Woods, so getting to see Julia Lester star in this new revival on literal Broadway was so amazing!! She’s such a star, and she deserves it all!
How do you like to spend your time away from your career?
I love being social, going out with friends or spending time with my family! But I also definitely enjoy time to myself – journaling, reading, or listening to music.
Have you been given any advice over the years that has stuck with you?
Follow what makes your heart happy – and don’t stress about what other people might think about you. Trust the journey!
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