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Kylie Cantrall puts own spin on classic 'High School Musical' songs

Kylie Cantrall joins the cast of "High School Musical: The Musical: The Series." Photo courtesy of Artist Publishing Group
1 of 5 | Kylie Cantrall joins the cast of "High School Musical: The Musical: The Series." Photo courtesy of Artist Publishing Group

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 9 (UPI) -- Joining the cast of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series in Season 4, premiering Wednesday on Disney+, gave Kylie Cantrall a chance to put her own spin on classic songs from the series.

Each season, the students at the school at which the High School Musical trilogy was filmed put on their own Disney-inspired musical. Cantrall, 18, plays Dani, a TikTok star cast in the fictional High School Musical 4.

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"I think she's spicy," Cantrall told UPI of her character in a Zoom interview before the SAG-AFTRA strike. "Who doesn't love a mean girl?"

Cantrall cited Ashley Tisdale's High School Musical character, Sharpay, as one of her favorite mean girls along with Regina George, the ringleader of the film Mean Girls.

"I definitely pulled inspiration from both of them for this role," Cantrall said.

The students of East High first meet Dani when she sings the song. "High School Musical," at an assembly. The song was originally sung by Vanessa Hudgens, Tisdale, Lucas Gabreel, Corbin Bleu and Monique Coleman in High School Musical 3: Senior Year.

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"It's a stripped-down acoustic version, so you can imagine it's very, very different, and I did put my own spin on it," Cantrall said. "It's cool to get to reinvent it in a new way."

Cantrall also teased that she would be singing other classic High School Musical songs in upcoming episodes.

"It's just going to be a trip down memory lane for the audience, because we revisit these old songs and do new renditions, flip it on its head and do these modern versions," Cantrall said.

She also said that upcoming musical numbers challenged her with increasingly complex dance choreography. Coincidentally, Cantrall once danced to "High School Musical" in a Las Vegas competition when she was 7.

"Dancing is my first love," Cantrall said. "It was definitely cool to get to show that off a lot throughout the season with all these fun numbers."

The new season also gives fans of the movie trilogy a hint at what a High School Musical 4 might have been. Cantrall and Matthew Sato play new characters who follow in the footsteps of Troy Bolton and Gabriella Montez.

"It's so meta," Cantrall said. "It's so cool that we get to imagine what it would've been like had there been a High School Musical 4 movie in this series."

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Cantrall left public school in seventh grade when she was cast in the title role on the Disney sitcom, Gabby Duran & the Unsittables. Cantrall missed public high school while she was working and completing classes on set and via home school.

For now, college is not on Cantrall's mind.

"I see myself just continuing to do what I love," Cantrall said. "Hopefully, I just keep working and keep going down this path. I can't see myself doing anything else."

In addition to acting, Cantrall releases original music. She has two singles planned for August and September, and an EP to follow.

"I feel like I've been giving my fans little hints of it on my TikTok," Cantrall said. "My fans are starting to get a vibe of the type of music I write and the sound. It's very fun and confident, girl power, danceable for sure."

Cantrall has been singing since she was 8. The daughter of songwriter and producer Alex Cantrall, Kylie performed on YouTube and music.ly, the social media platform that merged with TikTok.

"I never even did a lot of vocal coaching," Cantrall said. "I really just would listen to my favorite singers and try to copy what they were doing."

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Cantrall called Brandy, Mariah Carey and Beyonce her favorite artists.

"I feel like I learn to sing just listening to amazing singers and trying to apply what they're doing into my voice," Cantrall said.

TikTok brings Cantrall back to her character, Dani. She did not have to research TikTok to play a TikTok star.

"I feel like in this generation, everyone is a TikTok star, in a way," Cantrall said. "Pretty much every teenager is on TikTok and pretty much everyone has a story of going viral at least once."

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