Who could've predicted the star-making success of Disney Channel's coming-of-age teenage musical romantic comedy, High School Musical? Kenny Ortega's TV movie was once simply a Romeo & Juliet retelling where two separate high schoolers with two different personalities fell in love through their mutual appreciation and talents for theater. It had a quiet release amid the channel's other programming in early 2006. But soon enough, it became the most commercially successful Disney Channel Original Movie ever, generating a whopping 7.7 million viewers and a very devoted fanbase.
It wasn't long before a sequel was made, then one for theaters, and it elevated the careers of all its principal performers, particularly Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, and Corbin Bleu. Now, the High School Musical legacy lives on with a spin-off show, High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, which is streaming on Disney+.
If you're wondering what the High School Musical cast is up to now, we're here to help! Let's see what the high-profile stars have been doing since their time back in East High.
Zac Efron (Troy Bolton)
As Troy Bolton, East High School's popular varsity basketball team captain who decides to take part in the school musical, Zac Efron found his star-making role in High School Musical. Following this performance, Efron starred in 17 Again, Hairspray, The Lucky One, New Year's Eve, The Paperboy, Neighbors 1 & 2, The Greatest Showman, Baywatch, The Beach Bum, Charlie St. Cloud, Dirty Grandpa, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, and The Lorax, among several other movies.
Last year, Zac Efron stripped away his Disney image once more by playing serial killer Ted Bundy in Netflix's Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile. He also front-lined the streaming service's documentary series, Down to Earth with Zac Efron, and voiced Fred Jones in Scoob! earlier this year. Additionally, Efron filmed another reality TV series, Killing Zac Efron, for Quibi, though its status is unknown since the short-lived company has folded. Currently, the actor is in production on Gold. Efron is also set to star in King of the Jungle, as well as Disney+'s recently-announced Three Men and a Baby remake.
Vanessa Hudgens (Gabriella Montez)
In the role of Gabriella Montez, a transfer student who forms an attraction towards Troy Bolton after a fateful New Year's party sing-along, Vanessa Hudgens also rose to fame through her leading part in High School Musical. Prior to this performance, Hudgens provided supporting turns in Thirteen and Thunderbirds. This movie's success led to the actress appearing in Sucker Punch, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, Beastly, Bandslam, The Princess Switch, Machete Kills, The Knight Before Christmas, Gimme Shelter, Polar, and Spring Breakers. She also starred in Grease Live! and Rent: Live.
Earlier this year, Vanessa Hudgens appeared in Bad Boys For Life. Most recently, she played a trio of roles in Netflix's The Princess Switch: Switched Again. Hudgens also appeared in ABC's The Disney Family Singalong. Also, the actress made controversial comments about COVID-19, for which she later apologized. Currently, she's filming a role in Lin-Manuel Miranda's Netflix adaptation of Tick, Tick ... Boom! Additionally, Hudgens signed on to Netflix's upcoming anime spin-off series, Army of the Dead: Lost Vegas, based on Zack Snyder's forthcoming zombie movie.
Ashley Tisdale (Sharpay Evans)
Playing the part of Sharpay Evans, an energetic theater lover who's always vying for the center of attention, Ashley Tisdale played a splashy supporting character in High School Musical. As one of the main cast members on Disney Channel's The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, Tisdale was once the most famous performers in this TV movie. She also previously did voice work for Kim Possible. Her notable roles after High School Musical include Phineas & Ferb, Scary Movie 5, Aliens in the Attic, Hellcats, Sons of Anarchy, Clipped, Skylanders Academy, and Merry Happy Whatever. Also, in addition to High School Musical's sequels, Tisdale reprised the role as Sharpay in the HSM spin-off movie, Sharpay's Fabulous Adventure.
Recently, Ashley Tisdale starred in the CBS sitcom, Carol's Second Act, which ironically only received one season. The actress also reprised her role as Candance in Disney+'s Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Candance Against the Universe. Currently, Tisdale is filming a part in the upcoming drama, Enslaved by Ducks. She also did voice work for the video game, The Dark Pictures: House of Ashes. Outside of acting, Tisdale released her third studio album, Symptoms, last year. It was her first album in a decade. Additionally, Tisdale is currently pregnant with her first child.
Corbin Bleu (Chad Danforth)
In the role of Chad Danforth, Troy's best friend who likes to stick to the status quo, Corbin Bleu was a prominent supporting character in High School Musical. Prior to this performance, Bleu was most well-known for his lead role in Catch That Kid, as well as his supporting performances in Soldier, Mystery Men, and Galaxy Quest. After High School Musical, Bleu starred in Disney Channel's Jump In! and he was seen in To Write Love On Her Arms, Free Style, Nurse 3D, Sugar (2013), The Monkey's Paw, Flight 29 Down, and Dancing with the Stars Season 17.
Most recently, Corbin Bleu guest-starred in Supergirl. He was also recently seen in Ovid and the Art of Love, Witches in the Woods, and Walk. Ride. Rodeo. On the stage, Bleu starred in Broadway's 2019 Kiss Me Kate revival. He's reportedly set to lend his voice to Disney+'s upcoming Cars series. Additionally, Bleu was set to star in a musical production of Catch Me If You Can around this time, though that production was delayed due to COVID-19.
Lucas Grabeel (Ryan Evans)
Playing the part of Ryan Evans, Sharpay's twin brother, Lucas Grabeel gave a standout supporting performance in Disney Channel's High School Musical. Prior to this performance, Grabeel was notably seen in Halloweentown High, Return to Halloweentown, Veronica Mars, and Smallville. After the first film's release, Grabeel could be seen in Alice Upside Down, College Road Trip, The Adventures of Food Boy, Milk, and 2018's Little Women. Additionally, he played a main role in Switched at Birth and he did voice work for Sheriff Callie's Wild West, Elena of Avalor, Spirit Riding Free, Robot Chicken, DreamWorks Dragons, The Cleveland Show, and Family Guy. In addition to appearing in the HSM sequels, Grabeel reprised his role as Ryan Evans in the spin-off movie, Sharpay's Fabulous Adventure.
Recently, Lucas Grabeel voiced the main character in Netflix's animated series, Pinky Malinky. The program was canceled this year after three seasons. Also, last year, the actor appeared as himself in Disney+'s spin-off series, High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, and earlier this year, he made an appearance in ABC's Disney Family Singalong.
Monique Coleman (Taylor McKessie)
As Taylor McKessie, Gabriella's best friend and Chad's love interest, Monique Coleman had a sizable supporting role in High School Musical. Coleman's other notable credits include The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, Malcolm in the Middle, Boston Public, Gilmore Girls, Guidance, Bones, The Reading Room, Free the Nipple, The Fourth Door, The Cleveland Show, Veronica Mars, and the third season of Dancing with the Stars. She also has her own online talk show, Gimme Mo'.
Most recently, Monique Coleman starred in Phobias and the TV movie, Steppin' Back to Love, earlier this year, as well as the short film, GraceLand. She also made an appearance during ABC's The Disney Family Singalong special. Next, Coleman stars in The F* Happened and Witness Infection.
Bart Johnson (Jack Bolton)
In the role of Jack Bolton, Troy's father and basketball coach who considers theater to be a waste of time, Bart Johnson played a critical adult character in High School Musical. Prior to this role, Johnson was seen in My Family, Sunset Beach, JAG, Hyperion Bay, CSI: Miami, Saved By The Bell: The New Class, and Walker, Texas Ranger. Following High School Musical, the actor made appearances in Daddy Day Camp, The Cell 2, The Client List, Gortimer Gibbon's Life on Normal Street, Simon Says, All American, and 2018's Little Women. Additionally, Johnson wrote, directed, and starred in 2008's short film, The Run.
Earlier this year, Bart Johnson starred in Held and the TV movie, Young, Stalked, and Pregnant. He also guest-starred in episodes of Hawaii Five-0 and The Rookie. Next, Johnson will be seen in Initiation. He's also rumored to star in American Paradise.
Alyson Reed (Ms. Darbus)
As Ms. Darbus, East High School's stern and, well, dramatic drama teacher, Alyson Reed played a prominent adult role in Disney Channel's High School Musical. A stage performer since childhood, Reed has performed in a number of Broadway productions, including Dancin', Dance a Little Closer, A Grand Night of Singing, Marilyn: An American Fable, and Cabaret, for which she was Tony-nominated. Her screen credits include A Chorus Line, Skin Deep, Modern Family, Chance, Bones, Mad Men, Numb3rs, Providence, The Agency, Murphy Brown, Norma Jean & Marilyn, Party of Five, Grey's Anatomy, How to Get Away with Murder, Grace and Frankie, Silicon Valley, Desperate Housewives, NYPD Blue, Frasier, Nip/Tuck, JAG, Murder She Wrote, Law & Order, L.A. Law, The X-Files, Felicity, and George Lopez.
Recently, Alyson Reed starred in Ad Astra, guest-starred in Unbelievable and The Rookie, and lent her voice to Klaus. She was also seen in an episode of NCIS: Los Angeles earlier this year. This September, Alyson Reed starred in Love is Love is Love, which premiered at the Deauville American Film Festival.
Olesya Rulin (Kelsi Nielsen)
Playing the part of Kelsi Nielsen, a shy pianist and composer who's constantly bossed around by Sharpay, Olesya Rulin plays a mild-mannered personality in High School Musical. Prior to playing Kelsi, Rulin was seen in Touched by an Angel, Halloweentown High, Everwood, Mobsters and Mormons, and Urban Legends: Bloody Mary. After HSM's success, Rulin played a recurring part in Greek. She also had a main role in Powers, and she can be seen in Drop Dead Diva, CSI: Miami, The Mentalist, Underemployed, NCIS, The Night Shift, and heard in Family Guy. Additionally, Rulin's movie credits include American Pastime, Forever Strong, Flying By, Expecting Mary, Apart, and Family Weekend.
Most recently, Olesya Rulin was seen in episodes of SEAL Team and NCIS: Los Angeles.
Kaycee Stroh (Martha Cox)
As Martha Cox, a peppy brainiac who's friends with Gabriella and Taylor, Kaycee Stroh played a notable supporting character in High School Musical. Outside of this noteworthy role, Stroh was seen in The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, Hannah Montana: The Movie, The League, Andi Mack, Shapetown, USA, where she served as an associate producer, and Celebrity Fit Club. Also, the actress made a cameo appearance in Lady Gaga's "Telephone" music video.
Recently, Kaycee Stroh guest-starred in High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. She was also seen in this year's special, The Disney Family Singalong.
Do you love the High School Musical movies? Let us know in the comment section!
Will is an entertainment writer based in Pittsburgh, PA. His writing can also be found in The Playlist, Cut Print Film, We Got This Covered, The Young Folks, Slate and other outlets. He also co-hosts the weekly film/TV podcast Cinemaholics with Jon Negroni and he likes to think he's a professional Garfield enthusiast.
Your Daily Blend of Entertainment News
Thank you for signing up to CinemaBlend. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.