'High School Musical': Where Are They Now?
by Kim Potts, posted Jan 20th 2011 2:30PM
It was a mere five years ago, on Jan. 20, 2006, that 'High School Musical' hit the Disney Channel airwaves, making Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens the king and queen of the teen dream set, becoming the most successful movie in the cable network's history, nabbing a pair of Emmys and sparking TV and big-screen sequels, all along the way to becoming a true pop culture phenomenon.
You may have heard what "Zanessa" has been up to post-'HSM,' but, in honor of the original movie's anniversary, we're catching up with what the rest of the East High Wildcats have been doing ...
Then: Efron was BMOC Troy was the captain of the East High basketball team, which was coached by his dad, Jack. He also happened to have quite the song and dance skills, a fact that he kept hidden from his family and friends, until he and the beautiful Gabriella accidentally audition for the school's musical. Eventually, and despite pressure from his friends and dad, Troy decides to attend college near Gabriella, and to pursue both basketball and theater.
Since then: He graduated high school the year 'High School Musical' was released, and deferred his admission to the University of Southern California to continue pursuing his Hollywood career. Two 'HSM' sequels also revolved around his Troy character, and a considerably more buff Efron has continued to stir buzz with his performances in 'Hairspray,' 'Me and Orson Welles' and 'Charlie St. Cloud.'
Coming soon: His real-life romance with on-screen 'HSM' girlfriend Vanessa Hudgens is reportedly off, but, even after dropping out of the lead role in the upcoming 'Footloose' remake, he has a slate of nearly a dozen upcoming films, including 'The Lucky One,' adapted from the Nicholas Sparks novel of the same name, for which the actor gained 18 pounds to play a veteran of the war in Iraq; the romantic comedy 'New Year's Eve,' co-starring Robert De Niro and reportedly featuring cougar love between Efron and Michelle Pfieffer; and the 'Romeo and Juliet'-ish 'Die in a Gunfight.'
Then: Hudgens was academic-minded Gabriella, who moved to East High in the middle of the school year, and quickly bonded with Troy and her new BFF, and fellow grades geek, Taylor. Gabriella also proved to be a talented singer and dancer, which did not endear her to plotting rich chick Sharpay, but Gabriella won the heart of Troy, performed in the school musical and excelled on the scholastic decathlon team, too, before heading off to Stanford in 'HSM.'
Since then: She released a pair of albums, including one that was certified gold, and weathered a couple of scandals when nude photos of her were released on the Interwebs without her permission. She also starred in the movie 'Bandslam' and was a spokesperson for Neutrogena and Mark Ecko, and was on Maxim and FHM's sexiest women alive lists, as well as Forbes magazine's "High Earners Under 30" list.
Coming soon: Her on-again, off-again relationship with Efron has made both the young stars tabloid staples, but 2011 will see the release of her much-anticipated 'Beauty and the Beast'-ish 'Beastly' movie, as well as the Zack Snyder 'Sucker Punch.' Hudgens is also co-starring in the upcoming 'Journey to the Center of the Earth' sequel 'Journey 2: The Mysterious Island' with Michael Caine, Dwayne Johnson, Josh Hutcherson and Luis Guzman.
Then: The Tis may not have been the main female lead in the 'High School Musical' flicks, but she sure seemed to be the one having the most fun. Her self-absorbed, spoiled rich girl Sharpay was all about the fashion and the drama, and especially combining the two to be the center of attention. Her specific path to make all the East High heads turn was trying to land the lead in all school musicals, and woe to the person who purposefully or otherwise stood in her way, and since nice girl Gabriella had serious performance skills of her own, as well as the attention of hottie Troy, she was frequently the target of Sharpay's ire. Tisdale says she looked to Rachel McAdams' performance in 'Mean Girls' as inspiration for playing Sharpay.
Since then: Tisdale is currently co-starring with fellow Disney alum Aly Michalka in The CW cheerleading dramedy 'Hellcats' ...
Coming soon: ... and will also reprise her role as Sharpay in the Disney Channel spin-off movie 'Sharpay's Fabulous Adventure.' The direct-to-DVD flick, which premieres on DVD on April 19 and on the Disney Channel on May 20, finds Sharpay post-graduation, still fabulously attired and now trying to land a role on Broadway. 'Degrassi' star Lauren Collins co-stars, while Tisdale is also the movie's executive producer, and, with Relativity Media, is developing a Bravo reality series called 'Miss Advised.'
Then: Bleu was Troy's BFF and East High basketball teammate Chad, who stepped in with an "intervention" when his pal was focusing on the school musical instead of the big game. He and Troy make up, and then Chad starts dating Taylor, who he takes to the prom in 'High School Musical 3: Senior Year.'
Since then: Bleu, who originally auditioned for the role of Ryan Evans, is a singer and actor who has guest starred on 'The Good Wife' and 'Hannah Montana,' and starred in the short-lived CW drama 'The Beautiful Life,' with Mischa Barton. In 2010, he starred in the Tony-winning Broadway musical 'In the Heights.'
Coming soon: Later this year, he co-stars with '90210'-er Shenae Grimes in the big-screen drama 'Sugar.'
Then: Grabeel played Ryan, the fraternal twin, and frequent right-hand man of dirty work, to sis Sharpay. Though a talented singer and dancer who often starred with his sis in the school musicals (and liked to sport fancy hats), he's also a talented athlete, and a much kinder teen than his sib. In the second movie, when Sharpay abandons their partnership to co-star with Troy, Ryan steps out of her shadow and co-stars with Gabriella, eventually winning the Star Dazzle Award at the talent show.In the third movie, Ryan attends the prom with Kelsi and wins a scholarship to Juilliard.
Since then: Grabeel, who graduated from the same Missouri high school -- Kickapoo High in Springfield -- as Brad Pitt, has guest starred on series like 'The Cleveland Show,' 'Family Guy,' 'CSI,' 'Veronica Mars' and, most recently, 'Smallville,' where he played a young Lex Luthor. Grabeel also played photographer and Harvey Milk supporter Danny Nicoletta in the Oscar-winning flick 'Milk.'
Coming soon: He co-stars with Jennifer Connelly and Ed Harris in writer/director Dustin Lance Black's 'What's Wrong with Virginia.'
Then: She was smartie Taylor, president of the science club, eventual editor of the yearbook, and, in the third flick, Yale University student-to-be. Taylor also bonded with Gabriella after finding out she had also accomplished much in her academic pursuits before landing at East High.
Since then: She has guest starred on 'Bones' and 'The Cleveland Show,' hosts her own online talk show, 'Gimme Mo',' and finished in fourth place -- behind Joey Lawrence, Mario Lopez and winner Emmitt Smith -- on the third season of 'Dancing With the Stars.'
Coming soon: The dramedy film 'We Are Family,' in which she co-stars with 'The Apprentice' vet Omarosa.
Then: Stroh, a dance teacher who took some of her students to audition for 'HSM' and was then asked by director Kenny Ortega to audition herself, played Martha, a member of East High's decathlon team who revealed she also loved to dance hip-hop. Martha also worked at the country club with the rest of the gang in 'High School Musical 2,' and went to the prom with Jason in 'High School Musical 3.'
Since then: She's guest starred on 'The Suite Life of Zack and Cody,' and lost 29 pounds, the third biggest weight loss, on the seventh season of VH1's 'Celebrity Fit Club,' where she was teammates with Kevin Federline. Stroh also got married in 2009, with 'HSM' co-stars Efron, Hudgens, Tisdale, Grabeel, Coleman, Olesya Rulin, Chris Warren Jr., Ryne Sanborn and director Ortega all in attendance.
Coming soon: She continues to be a model and spokesperson for Torrid plus-size clothing stores and recently guest-starred on FX's comedy 'The League.'
Then: Johnson was East High basketball coach Jack Bolton, also the father of hoops star Troy. Coach Bolton wasn't always happy with Troy's decisions -- to try out for the school musical or to attend the University of California at Berkley -- but he always found his way towards supporting his son's ambitions in the end.
Since then: He's guest starred on 'Eve' and 'Las Vegas.'
Coming soon: Johnson is a producer and co-star in the upcoming vampire dramedy 'Immortality Bites,' and is rumored to be starring in the next 'HSM' movie. He also has a role in the upcoming TNT drama series 'Bird Dog,' starring Gerald McRaney and Ashley Williams.
Then: Rulin played East High's musical wiz Kelsi, who wrote songs for the winter musical. Despite her obvious talents, Kelsi was often intimidated by snooty Sharpay, though, in the end, it was Kelsi and Sharpay's bro, Ryan, who won the coveted spots at Juilliard.
Since then: Rulin starred in 'Major Movie Star,' the flick that didn't make a major movie star out of its lead, Jessica Simpson, and has guest-starred on 'CSI: Miami' and 'The Mentalist.' Currently, she plays Abby, the Zeta Beta pledge class president, on ABC Family's college dramedy 'Greek.'
Coming soon: She stars in the indie comedy 'A Family Weekend,' in which she plays a teen who holds her parents (played by Matthew Modine and Kristin Chenoweth) hostage so they'll pay attention to her.
Chris Warren Jr.
Then: He was East High basketball player Zeke, who, after pal Troy revealed he was a jock with a fondness for singing and dancing, revealed that he had a secret love, too: Baking!
Since then: He's guest starred on 'The Bernie Mac Show' and Disney Channel's 'Luck Charlie,' and he co-starred in 'Alvin and the Chipmunks 2: The Squeakquel' on the big screen. Most recently, he played RJ nemesis Patterson on MTV's 'The Hard Times of RJ Berger.'
Coming soon: He's expected to return for season two of 'RJ Berger.'
Then: He was Jason, Wildcat basketball star, friend of Troy and Chad and the guy known for asking silly questions in class.
Now: Since starring in 'HSM 3,' Sanborn -- who was named after professional baseball star Ryne Sandberg -- has been focusing on his hockey career. The Utah native, who aspires to play on the U.S. Olympic hockey team, travels around the country participating in the sport.
Coming soon: He's participating in the Luc Robitaille Celebrity Shoot Out all-star charity hockey event in Park City, Utah on Jan. 23.