Because “Bop to the Top” and “Breaking Free” exist in the same show.
My friends and I just rewatched the High School Musical trilogy over Zoom during this quarantime, and — of course — it held up.
But watching HSM in 2020 has reopened a question that has haunted me for the past 14 years: What ~actually~ is the plot of Twinkle Towne the musical, aka the musicale written and composed by musical theater prodigy Kelsi?
Anyway, because I have nothing but time, I decided to piece together the plot of Twinkle Towne based on the limited context clues from the film — the set pieces, the character names, and, of course, the songs.
Let’s start with the title. Twinkle Towne is clearly supposed to be reminiscent of Tinseltown, a nickname for Hollywood.
We have our leads, Arnold and Minnie, a famous Hollywood duo with a multi-picture deal at a studio like MGM but not ~actually MGM~. Let’s call it…NTN Studios.
This explains a lot of the seemingly random costumes and set pieces for the musicale — the camel! The tree! The moon! They’re all various set pieces from the comically bad (but ultra successful) movies produced by this studio.
Arnold and Minnie have never been romantically involved — in fact, they don’t even really get along that well — but it’s in their studio contracts that they are in a PR relationship.
Arnold is content to keep making these corny movie musicals since they’ve made him rich and famous, but Minnie is itching to get out of her contract.
The president of the movie studio is named Dennis Schain, known by the studio as The Incredible Mr. Schain because he keeps producing hit after hit.
Minnie reaches her breaking point when she gets the script for their next film, Twinkle Lights, and has a meltdown at rehearsals as she and Arnold learn one of the songs from the film while standing in front of a gigantic moon backdrop.
Meanwhile, media personality Johnny Omni — let’s say he’s basically the Perez Hilton of the 1940s — has beef with Arnold and Minnie because they banned him from doing interviews with them.
Unfortunately, Johnny Omni was spying on the rehearsal where Minnie broke down, and he leaks a story about Minnie being a monster on set that lands on the front page of all the papers the next day.
Late one night amid the fallout, Minnie turns to Arnold for comfort — even though she has embarrassed them both, he’s the only one who can really understand what she’s going through.
“It’s hard to believe that I couldn’t see — that you were always there beside me,” Arnold declares his love to Minnie as he starts singing “What I’ve Been Looking For.”
Arnold and Minnie concoct a plan together — now that they’re “actually” a couple, they will stage a massive falling out and messy breakup between them. So big that the studio and Mr. Schain will have no choice but to let Minnie out of her contract because Arnold demands that they can’t work together anymore.
The plan works like a charm! Minnie is now free to explore more serious projects and work, while Arnold still has a deal with the studio with a new leading lady. The world thinks they are apart, but really, behind the scenes, they’re a couple and they’re happier than ever.
“I know the world may see us, in a way that’s different from who we are. Creating space between us, ’till we’re separate hearts.”
“But your faith it gives me strength, strength to believe — we’re breaking free!”
It’s true, Arnold and Minnie broke free and shattered the illusions of what life is like in Hollywood.
And Kelsi deserves all the Tonys.
TV and Movies
Get all the best moments in pop culture & entertainment delivered to your inbox.