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Disney Channel's "Lemonade Mouth" - Debra Martin Chase chases down just the right cast for this Disney Channel Original Movie

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Disney Channel's "Lemonade Mouth" - Debra Martin Chase chases down just the right cast for this Disney Channel Original Movie

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"If you find the right cast, we'll make this movie."

That was the challenge that Gary Marsh - President of Entertainment and Chief Creative Officer of Disney Channel Worldwide - laid down for Debra Martin Chase. That if she could find just the right kids to bring Mark Peter Hughes' book, "Lemonade Mouth,"  to life ... Well, Marsh would then allow production of this Disney Channel Original Movie to go forward.

Now a challenge like that (i.e. find five young performers who could believably play alienated teen musicians who would eventually go on to form this arena-filling super group)  might have rattled a regular person. But not Ms. Chase.

Debra Martin Chase, executive producer of "Lemonade
Mouth." Photo by Rick Rowell. Copyright Disney
Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

Having produced both of the" Princess Diaries" movies for Walt Disney Pictures, all three of those "Cheetah Girls " TV movies for the Disney Channel, "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" and its sequel for Warner Bros., not to mention "Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella" for ABC ... Debra has kind of a knack when it comes to finding and then casting truly talented teens in her productions.

But that said, it still took Chase three months (not to mention a little luck and some telecommunications technology) before Debra eventually found "Lemonade Mouth" 's lead performers.

As to where telecommunications came into this tale ... Here, I'll let Ms. Chase herself explain:

Naomi Scott stars as Mo on Disney Channel's "Lemonade Mouth." Photo by Bob D'Amico.
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

"This movie is the very first time that I have ever hired anyone to come work on one of my projects without meeting them in person first. We were casting the role of Mo in 'Lemonade Mouth.' And when we were trying to choose between our last two candidates for this part, Naomi Scott was in London and the other actress - who works for the Disney Channel in India - was out of the country at that time as well. So we had these two do their final auditions for us via teleconference, and Naomi just blew us away. So I hired her right then and there. And the first time Naomi and I actually met was when she was going into wardrobe."

Mind you, given that Ms. Scott has something of a proven track record (i.e. Naomi's already been cast in "Terra Nova," that high profile sci-fi TV series that Steven Spielberg is producing which will  debut on Fox  this Fall), she was a pretty safe bet. Whereas Blake Michael - who plays the role of Charlie in "Lemonade Mouth" - has never appeared in anything prior to performing in this Disney Channel Original Movie.

"Blake's kind of our Cinderfella," Debra laughed. "He's from Atlanta and - clear out of the blue -- sent us a tape. And something about him just popped. So we decided to take a chance on Blake. Which - given how great he is in the role of Charlie - turned out to be a real stroke of luck."

Blake Michael stars as Charlie on Disney Channel's
"Lemonade Mouth." Photo by Bob D'Amico.
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc.
All rights reserved

As for the rest of the cast of "Lemonade Mouth ... Bridgit Mendler, you probably know from her starring role on the Disney Channel's hit sitcom, "Good Luck Charlie." Likewise Adam Hicks, who's been wowing TV viewers with his comedy & skateboarding skills on "Zeke and Luther" (which just kicked off its third season on Disney XD earlier this month). And Hayley Kiyoko has had a recurring role of "Disney's Wizards of Waverly Place" as trouble-causing teen wizard Stevie Nichols.

So all three of these kids are Disney Channel veterans. But Chase promises that you'll see a different side of Mendler, Hicks and Nichols if you tune in to watch "Lemonade Mouth" next month, when this Disney Channel Original Movie premieres on April 15th.

"Bridgit actually read for two roles on this TV movie, Olivia and for Stella. But she just knocked it out of the park as the band's lead vocalist Olivia. Bridgit sang so beautifully, we had to cast her in that role," Debra continued. "And Adam was a huge surprise as well. I mean, we knew that the guy could act. But that he was also this great rapper, who knew?"

Adam Hicks stars as Wen on Disney Channel's
"Lemonade Mouth." Photo by Bob D'Amico.
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc.
All rights reserved

That happy coincidence turned out to be a real bonus for the folks at Walt Disney Records who were putting together "Lemonade Mouth" 's soundtrack (which will go on sale in stores nationwide and on iTunes on April 12th). Given that Hicks was able to make such significant contributions to three of the songs that are performed over the course of this TV movie ... Well, that's why Adam actually received songwriting credit for those tunes.

"And this is the first time that a cast member has ever written a song that was then performed in a Disney Channel Original Movie," Chase said. "So we're breaking some new ground with 'Lemonade Mouth.' "

That was another point that Debra wanted to get across when the two of us chatted last week. That "Lemonade Mouth" wasn't some "High School Musical" and/or "Cheetah Girls" clone.

(L to R) Adam Hicks, Hayley Kiyoko, Blake Michael, Bridgit Mendler and Naomi Scott on the
set of "Lemonade Mouth." Photo by Colleen Hayes. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc.
All rights reserved

 "This isn't one of those movies where kids just spontaneously start singing and dancing in the hallways, where everybody automatically knows the choreography," Chase insisted. " 'Lemonade Mouth' is all about how these five high school kids meet in detention and  then go on to form a band. So the music that you'll hear in this Disney Channel Original Movie comes from a far more natural place. You'll hear songs when the band's rehearsing or when they're performing in places like Madison Square Garden."

That - to Debra's way of thinking, anyway - was the real highlight of shooting this new TV movie. When they staged "Lemonade Mouth"'s finale sequence inside of the Santa Ana Star Center. Which is this 7000-seat arena in Rancho Rio, New Mexico.

"In this part of the movie, Lemonade Mouth is supposed to be playing at Madison Square Garden. So we filled the Star Center with extras," Chase recalled. "And the kids - who were really were performing as if they were in a band at this point, so they were really in sync with one another - were feeding off of the energy of the crowd. And the crowd ... They seemed to have forgotten that we were shooting a movie. So they were genuinely screaming and applauding, reaching out to touch the cast as they raced up and down the stage. It was a pretty wild scene."

(L to R) Hayley Kiyoko, Adam Hicks and Naomi Scott perform onstage.
Photo by Colleen Hayes. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc.
All rights reserved

And given how all the extras in the Star Center responded to Lemonade Mouth (the group), does Chase hope that - just like with her previous projects (i.e. "The Princess Diaries," "The Cheetah Girls" and "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants") - "Lemonade Mouth" (the Disney Channel Original Movie) will lend itself to sequelizing? Debra was quick to dismiss that idea.

"That decision is really in the audience's hands. Me? The reason that I wanted to make a movie out of  'Lemonade Mouth' was because I read Mark Peter Hughes' book and I really liked the message that he was trying to put across. That we're all special. That we all have the power to do great things," Chase concluded. "That's a theme that runs through a lot of the films & TV movies that I make. Which is why I felt that I really had to make 'Lemonade Mouth.' Not because I thought this project might lend itself to sequels."

That's also the message that "Somebody" (which is basically "Lemonade Mouth" 's anthem) tries to get across. You can check out the music video for the first song released from the soundtrack of this new Disney Channel Original Movie below.

So now that you know a little but about the back story on this new DCOM and/or listened to a tune from its soundtrack, will you be checking out "Lemonade Mouth" when it debuts on the Disney Channel on April 15th? Or will you be too stressed on Tax Day to take in this new Disney Channel Original Movie?

Your thoughts?

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  • this looks special.  I would like to watch this

  • I actually worked with Blake Michael on the movie set of No Limit Kids Much Ado About Middle School and it's on his imdb.  I think Blake was also on the Cartoon Network playing Fried Dino.  So this is not his first time out. I think it does look like a good movie though.

  • I watched the movie and it was great. The casting was also great.

  • =D i love the song determinate

  • i love  adam :XX:X:X:

  • je  vais  bien

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