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It's Ryan (minus Sharpay) Evans!
Disney+'s High School Musical: The Musical: The Series welcomes back original High School Musical cast member Lucas Grabeel in Friday's episode, and only ET has the exclusive behind-the-scenes look at Grabeel's musical cameo. (Watch the video above.)
In the episode, titled "The Tech Rehearsal," the school musical's cast and crew unexpectedly need to find a new location to "tech" their production. When choreographer Carlos (Frankie Rodriguez) secures a spooky theater downtown, Miss Jenn (Kate Reinders) is forced to confront old demons -- and that's where Grabeel comes into play.
Grabeel, 35, plays a fictional version of himself and he dusts off his pipes to perform a special song-and-dance number with Reinders after Miss Jenn is knocked out for a brief period of time.
For Grabeel, who played Sharpay's twin brother Ryan in all three High School Musical movies, getting the call to return to East High for this new meta take was a no-brainer.
"Yes, it was an immediate 'yes'! I was originally called and asked if I was interested in sitting down with [executive producers] Bill Borden and Tim Federle to discuss the opportunity of me being on the show. I immediately said yes, but I was a still a bit hesitant yet intrigued to see how I was going to be used and furthermore, the details of the show," Grabeel exclusively tells ET. "Once I heard from Tim, passionately describing how he wanted to maintain the integrity of the original movies and music and dancing and spirit and also bring it to the new generation, I became so excited and jumped at the opportunity to be a part of it."
Gabreel brought Ryan's signature hat from home in his reprisal of the character, but jumping back into the musical element of High School Musical, he confessed, took a bit of adapting after so many years away.
"It’s interesting because it wasn’t so much stepping into Ryan’s shoes. It was a whole different blend between me and Ryan and High School Musical and my actual life. It was fun to figure out where that line was and how to play myself but with a flair of Ryan," Gabreel says. "It was so great to put on my dancing shoes again. I was definitely out of shape because I haven’t danced in so long, but luckily everyone was so nice and helpful and helped this old grandpa get on his feet again."
Gabreel had nothing but praise for Reinders, whom he shares the most screen time with.
"Kate was so fun, smart and funny. We just laughed the whole time that we were working together. And her son’s name is Lucas, so she knows what she’s doing!" Grabeel recalls. "We just had a great time singing and playing together. It felt like we had worked together for many years. It was an instant click. Obviously, I’ve heard her sing, so I wasn’t scared or anything, but you always get a bit apprehensive getting to work with someone you’ve never collaborated with before. Especially since I knew that I would be working with the kids just a small amount -- mainly working with her. But yes, we just clicked and had so much fun. She’s so incredibly talented."
Grabeel joins KayCee Stroh, aka "pop and lock and break and jam" expert Martha Cox, as original stars returning to High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.
To see original High School Musical cast member Corbin Bleu interview the cast for ET, watch the video below.