“A Christmas Dance Reunion” is that perfect holiday romance you’ve been searching for!
“High School Musical” franchise’s Monique Coleman and Corbin Bleu reunite on the big screen for Lifetime’s newest holiday dance film that will premiere on December 3.
The story follows Lucy Mortimer (Coleman), a “successful attorney,” and her mother Virginia as they make their way back to Winterleigh Resort to celebrate one last holiday season before the hotel permanently closes its doors. There, she reunites with Barrett Brewster (Bleu) who’s not only the owner’s nephew but Lucy’s childhood Christmas Dance partner.
TooFab caught up with Monique Coleman — who since her “High School Musical” Days — has become the first ever United Nations Youth Champion and received a Daytime Emmy nomination in 2019 for “Outstanding Host for Lifestyle, Children’s or Special Class Programs”.
Coleman dished about what it was like to reunite with her Disney Channel co-star, whether or not Taylor Mckessie and Chad Danforth would have ended up together and which HSM co-star she would love to see be a part of a potential sequel.
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What was day one on set with Corbin like after all this time? Did it feel like any time had passed?
Not really. I mean, we’ve remained friends since for you know, obviously since we did the movies all those years ago, I think but even more than when we showed up on set there was actually a rehearsal process. So you know, when we we shot the movie in Canada, and we spent about two weeks in quarantine because this was still very much at the height of the pandemic and when we got out on that very first day, it was literally like, this huge love fest between him, myself and Sasha just being so excited to get to be there. And during the rehearsal process, it was just like falling right back into step and then when we got on set, I think in many ways, we’ve seen just kind of how much we’ve grown over these last 15 years and how comfortable we are with each other and it was just such a positive experience all the way around.
Did you two share any moments on set that were reminiscent or nostalgic of the days you two spent on High School Musical together?
I think just, overall, the whole overall experience, getting to dance together specifically, was very reminiscent of getting to dance together during “High School Musical” and just that trust that we have built over the years and the comfort that we have with each other that we didn’t necessarily that we cultivated by doing those movies together and remaining friends all this time. So yeah, I would say that just like the way we have each other’s backs is yeah, we just we’re just really close friends.
There are also a few parallels between your characters in “A Christmas Dance Reunion” and your characters in HSM and we know that Barrett and Lucy find their way back to each other after all that time. Where do you think Taylor and Chad would have ended up after high school? Do you think they would have ended up together?
That’s a great question. I really, I haven’t actually, I’ve never really thought about it and to be honest, I think I’d be more interested in what the fans would want to see. It’s been so long and I’m you know, so removed from it, that I would really love to hear, you know, from like, what the fans think and what they would have wanted to see. And that’s actually one of the reasons why I’m excited about this movie is, you know, for so long we’ve been seen as Chad and Taylor, but we’ve both gone off to do incredible things. Corbin has an amazing Broadway career. He’s done some wonderful hosting and, you know, lots of different projects and shows and as have I with like, all of the philanthropy that I’ve done and the indie films and stuff. And so, for me, I’m really, like, genuinely excited and hopeful that the fans of Chad and Taylor will be satisfied by seeing the two of us portray these new characters with a different story and a different ending that will kind of be nostalgic and kind of give a nod to Chad Taylor, but actually, my hope deeply is that people really fall in love with Lucy and Barrett and can see us as like the, you know, grownups that we are. I just turned 41 so I was it was a totally different time in my life and I was at a different place in my life. And to be honest, I remember a lot of it but I don’t remember all of it. And as much as you know, Taylor is one of my favorite characters I’ve ever played. I’m excited for the new generation of, you know, “High School Musical” fans, and the show that they have to you know, continue that legacy but as an actor, as a person, I really am trying to be seen and respected for the work that I’m doing now and the work that I want to do in the future.
Have you been watching “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series”? How do you think the show has been continuing the film’s legacy? Have you met any of the cast members IRL?
Not since like I saw like the first couple of episodes and I know some of the cast members particularly like Dara and I just think it’s such a wonderful idea. It’s such a well executed show and I think that you know, it was a long time coming to try to find a place for the high school musical legacy to live. And I think that they’re doing a perfect job with how they’ve done it and, my gosh, what’s her name? Olivia [Rodrigo], is such an incredible just star on the rise and Sophia. I’m just really proud of all of them. I hope that they just have the brightest careers through this project and in continuing forward.
You also mentioned that you just turned 41 and I know you celebrated your birthday on set last year. How did the cast and crew surprise you and were you expecting it at all?
I really wasn’t. I mean, of course, like I’d let everybody know that it was my birthday and I thought like, you know, maybe somebody will sing to me at some point, but it was so magical. So Sasha Clemens, who’s Corbin’s wife organized for the entire crew to sign a journal for me, and because she knows that I’m really sentimental, and I love like, I just love words, and I love creating memories and I love people to make things I’m not very materialistic. And she organized for this journal that she bought and everyone wrote me a letter that I got to work with of like a wish that they had for my 40th year and they presented it during the lunch break and even when I got to set that day, every day I would you know, we had to move very quickly. There was a lot to capture and not a lot of time and so often we would get dressed like on set. And on my birthday, they sent me out to my trailer to get dressed and I was like “Why are they doing this? Like I don’t understand. Every other day you’re always looking for Mo. Why aren’t you on time where are you today? All of a sudden, you’re sending me to my trailer what is going on? I’m happy to get dressed right here” and they were like, “No, it’s your birthday. Like go to your trailer. We’ll give you a minute.” I was like okay, and I walk in and it’s full of balloons and flowers and everybody jumps out and sings happy birthday and that’s literally how my day started. And then at lunch like I said, they presented the journal to me and saying happy birthday around a cake and it was just for me it was the most perfect way to celebrate my birthday like I am not — I don’t like to really party and I really you know value my solitude. I’m kind of an introverted extrovert and I get really embarrassed easily. So it was really like the most perfect way to celebrate and to get to be doing something that I love with people that I love that I honestly can’t think of a better way to turn 40.
What was it like preparing for your big dance number towards the end of the movie? How does it kind of compare to some of the other stuff that you’ve worked on previously within your career?
We were coming off of the pandemic and so I had definitely eaten a few too many cookies, and I needed to stop eating everything in sight. So I used those two weeks of quarantine to really start conditioning my body and stretching regularly and exercising. We also did rehearsals over zoom, which was really different. I’ve never had that experience before. We would just like, you know, we’d warm up over zoom, we would do stretching and things like that. I think that you know, two things. One is the fact that Corbin and I were dance partners during “High School Musical” really helped with the comfortability that I had specifically with him, but then also the fact that I placed fourth on “Dancing with the Stars” several years ago, I think that also contributed to that last dance number because it gave me a little bit more confidence in my ability to learn something so quickly. Having Corbin as my partner made it so that I could trust that process and the choreographer, his name is Christian Vincent, he was amazing and really choreographed dances that he knew would look good on us. And so it was something where usually I would be like shaking in my boots, I would be so scared and instead I was so excited. I just was like, so proud of myself, you know? Like to be at that time, 39 years old and like getting to star in a dance movie with one of my best friends and kind of showing people that like age doesn’t really matter. And yeah, sometimes I was really sore and had to take ice baths and stuff, but I just did it and it made me feel like I could do anything and I really hope that this gives me the opportunity to continue to flex those muscles and to actually get even better and to take even bigger risks.
I believe this is your first Christmas movie! How did it feel to be a part of this holiday themed project?
Yes, it is my first Christmas movie and it’s always been a dream of mine. Always. I love these Christmas movies and I’ve always wanted to be in one of the lifetime Christmas movies because it just feels like such a rite of passage in the industry. Also, my grandmother loves these movies. There’s so many projects that I’m 18 that she can’t watch for one reason or another mostly because things are streaming now and she still has a television and gets confused. So it was really exciting for me to be in a holiday movie and another thing is typically these movies are filmed in the summer which I cannot even imagine like being in a freaking coat and like having to pretend to be freezing because of the pandemic and everything we were actually able to film in October and so it was beautiful up in Canada, where it was snowing and we were just staying in these really beautiful places. It really got me in the Christmas spirit as well, which was really fun and nice.
Hopefully we can see you to reprise your roles for a sequel, and if it does happen and you could get another High School Musical Star in the film who would it be and why?
Hmm. You know what I would love to see Casey Stroh in it. I love her. She loves dance. She’s a phenomenal dancer and she’s also a good friend and I would just like, I think that it would be something that she would be amazing at and I would love if she was one of the people that also grew up going to the Winterleigh or something. I think that that would be really fun.
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