High School Musical: The Musical: The Series is about to get a heavy dose of nostalgia. Lucas Grabeel, who played the iconic Ryan Evans in the High School Musical movies, will be guest-starring on the Dec. 27 episode titled “The Tech Rehearsal.” He’ll be performing the song “Role of a Lifetime” with Miss Jenn, played by Kate Reinders. HollywoodLife talked EXCLUSIVELY with Lucas about stepping back into the High School Musical world. “The idea that I would be coming in as a cameo and it would be this dream sequence and inspiring the drama teacher, Miss Jenn, to really focus on the kids and make it about them and help them with their dreams with putting on the show and everything, I loved it,” Lucas told HollywoodLife. “I thought it was great. This whole idea that I play a kind of amalgamation of myself and the dream sequence and Ryan kind of all mixed together was really interesting and fun. I loved the song and got to play around with that and with everybody on set and everything. It was great. I was on board right away.”
However, Lucas did admit he was nervous about performing again. “I was really scared because it’s been so long and music has changed a little bit since High School Musical,” he continued. “I didn’t hear any of the other songs that they were doing for the show. I was a little nervous but once I heard it, I thought it was perfect. It has the right amount of cheese, the right amount of heart, the right amount of vocal fun and technicalities. It’s such a fun number to do. I was really excited to jump into the studio and start to play.” Lucas also added that he took this cameo “very seriously and I wanted to do the absolute very best that I could. Also, I hadn’t danced in a while, I hadn’t sung in a while onscreen, so it was something that I worked really hard and trained for beforehand so that I was ready.”
The Disney+ series stars a talented crew of young actors and Lucas said that the cast gave him such a “warm welcome” when he was on set. “I felt so at ease as soon as I got there and the kids were so amazing,” he gushed. “They’re so talented and so warm and welcoming and loving and fun. In between each take they would all run to the piano and start playing songs and harmonize with each other.” Lucas also talked about how the cast is well aware of how the original High School Musical cast paved the way for them. “I could tell how grateful they were to be there and how special they knew it was,” Lucas told HollywoodLife. “They said things like, ‘We just want this to be okayed by you guys, and we want to do you proud and want to carry the torch in a positive way. We don’t want to take over anything that isn’t ours and all of that.’ I was just like, ‘Well, you didn’t need to say that but that was really sweet of you.’ It was just an excellent disposition to have.”
For the performance, Lucas shot in an auditorium in Utah where he had filmed a previous project. The cameo was nostalgic in more ways than one. “I’ve made over 10 movies in Utah, including the High School Musical movies, so I knew more than half of the crew members and all of the people around,” Lucas said. “It was definitely a homecoming and even staying in the same hotel that I stayed in when we made the first High School Musical, it was really great to have that as the base because I was a little nervous coming back in as well to do a good job because they asked me to come back and this is a big deal.”
So, could we see Lucas pop up on the series again as a guest star? He weighed in on the possibility: “I mean, in general, of course it would be great. But story-wise I think it’s kind of played. I think that in the capacity that I came back, especially as this dream sequence thing, I think it’s better if it’s just one, but I don’t know. If there was some way for me to put on a mask and come back and be a different character and work with these people again, I totally would do it. Maybe in another capacity that could happen. I put story and character first when it comes to that kind of stuff and I feel like it would cheapen it a little bit.” New episodes of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series premiere Fridays on Disney+.