When former "High School Musical" co-stars Monique Coleman and Corbin Bleu prepared to dance onscreen together for the first time in 13 years, something instantly clicked.
"When we first started stretching and warming up, it was honestly like coming home," Coleman told the Los Angeles Times. "I forgot how much I love to do this and how much I love to do it with this person."
"'High School Musical' was lightning in a bottle ... and one major part of the cause was us," Bleu added. "So, to be able to be on set again and to see what Mo is capable of and see how we work together ... That was a reminder of why what we did in the past became what it did."
More than a decade after the last "High School Musical" film opened in theaters, Coleman and Bleu are onscreen together once again in the Lifetime holiday movie "A Christmas Dance Reunion," premiering Friday. The feel-good flick stars the longtime friends as Lucy and Barrett, childhood dance partners who reconvene as adults for a spontaneous winter performance — and inevitably fall for each other in the process.
In Disney's "High School Musical" trilogy, Coleman and Bleu played love interests Taylor McKessie, an academic genius, and Chad Danforth, a basketball star, the respective best friends of romantic leads Gabriella Montez (Vanessa Hudgens) and Troy Bolton (Zac Efron).
Lifetime's move to reteam Coleman, 41, and Bleu, 32, for "A Christmas Dance Reunion" follows a tried-and-true casting formula for the network, which has been intentionally reuniting former castmates in its holiday programming since at least 2017.
This year, Lifetime has also rejoined cast members of "The Brady Bunch" and Showtime's "Seventeen Again," while its biggest holiday TV movie rival, Hallmark Channel, has gathered actors from "The Wonder Years," "Fuller House," "Back to the Future" and "Desperate Housewives."
"As everybody's lately ... jumping on the bandwagon of Christmas movies, we've really been able to isolate what our audience loves," said Tanya Lopez, executive vice president of scripted programming at Lifetime.
"They love seeing their friends get back together — the people that they watched in their living rooms. They love the idea that they still look ... great. They're still fun. It is like going back to a high school reunion and getting the best of it."
Both Lopez and her Hallmark counterpart, Lisa Hamilton Daly, agreed that nostalgia is a potent force in holiday TV movies — especially projects that mine viewers' fond memories of small-screen flames and spin them into fresh yuletide fantasies.