Ne-Yo (“The Wiz,” “World of Dance”) joins Naya Rivera (“Glee”) and Faizon Love (“Couples Retreat) to headline YouTube’s subscription service channel YouTube Red’s upcoming fall series “Step Up: High Water.” The dance-driven, musically-charged series hails from YouTube and Lionsgate TV and is based on the internationally-renowned “Step Up” film franchise, which starred Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan Tatum in the first installment. The Tatum's are executive-producing the impending new series, along with the film’s producers Adam Shankman, Jennifer Gibgot and Meredith Milton. Showrunner Holly Sorenson (“Recovery Road,” “Make It or Break It”) is series creator and executive producer.
While based on the wildly popular feature film collection, “Step Up: High Water” asserts itself as something entirely new on the TV/streaming landscape. Per Deadline, Ne-Yo plays Atlanta-based High Water Performing Arts School founder Sage Odom. Rivera plays secret-laden High Water Administrator Collette, who is a former dancer with ties to Sage.
Music is a prominent force in the series and the lives of its characters. Original series songs will be written by four-time Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Jason “PooBear” Boyd and “Jingle” Jared Gutstadt. The show will also license songs from Grammy-winning rapper-producer 2 Chainz.
This kind of “performing arts” drama hasn’t been seen on television since the critically-acclaimed 1982 NBC series “Fame.” Then, of course, Ryan Murphy’s Emmy and Golden Globe-winning musical dramedy (and Rivera’s Alma Mater) “Glee” revolutionized pop culture for six seasons from 2009 – 2015. It featured current chart-topping hits each week as a backdrop to the triumphs and pitfalls of an underdog-filled high school glee club. Later seasons found “Glee” graduates attending the fictional NYADA (New York Academy of Dramatic Arts) school.
As both prior series proved, there’s something infectious about watching a crop of talented aspiring artists chasing their artistic dreams. In bold fairy tale fashion, Channing and Jenna Dewan Tatum met and fell in love during their “Step Up” filming. “Step Up: High Water” boasts the same kind of passionate, sexy fun the film franchise delivered, set in the highly-competitive world of hip hop dance and the Atlanta music scene. The SUHW cast recently performed an electric series preview at the 2017 Teen Choice Awards.
Watch the "Step Up: High Water" series trailer in the video above and the cast TCA performance in the video below.
Other cast members are as follows: Lauryn McClain (“Daddy’s Little Girls”) as Janelle, who is uprooted from her Ohio home along with her twin brother Tal played by Petrice Jones (“iBoy”), Marcus Mitchell as Dondre, who introduces Janelle and Tal to High Water, Jade Chynoweth (“The Last Ship”) as Odalie, Carlito Olivero (“Bad Samaritan”) as Davis, Terrence Green (“America’s Best Dance Crew”) as Rigo, R. Marcus Taylor (“Straight Outta Compton”) as East-O and newcomers Eric Graise as King and Kendra Oysesanya) as Poppy.
“Step Up: High Water” will air 10 episodes this fall on YouTube Red. A season premiere date is TBD.