THEN AND NOW: The cast of the 'High School Musical' movies 14 years later

osingh@businessinsider.com (Olivia Singh)
Vanessa Hudgens and Zac Efron starred in "High School Musical."
Vanessa Hudgens and Zac Efron starred in "High School Musical."

Disney Channel

  • "High School Musical" came out in 2006 on Disney Channel.

  • The cast has gone on to star in movies and TV shows.

  • Zac Efron is a bona fide movie star now, and portrayed Ted Bundy in Netflix's "Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile."

  • Vanessa Hudgens starred in the 2019 Netflix movie "The Knight Before Christmas."

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

On January 20, 2006, Disney Channel premiered "High School Musical." The movie centered on a jock (played by then-unknown Zac Efron) falling in love with a shy, book-smart girl named Gabriella (Vanessa Hudgens) and shaking up the norms after auditioning for the school's musical.   

Catchy tracks and perfectly synchronized choreography resulted in the film being viewed by millions of people nationwide, and the soundtrack became the top-selling album of 2006. The success also led to two sequels and a new series called "High School Musical: The Musical," recently debuted on Disney's streaming service (Disney Plus). The 10-episode show features a new generation of actors, rather than the familiar faces from the three films.  

Keep reading to see what the cast has been up to in the 14 years since "HSM" was released. 

Zac Efron starred as Troy Bolton.

This was Zac Efron's breakout role.
This was Zac Efron's breakout role.

Disney Channel

He was the most popular guy at East High, equally talented at singing and playing basketball. Troy fell in love with Gabriella after meeting her at a ski resort and reluctantly being paired up for karaoke. 

Efron played real-life serial killer Ted Bundy in Netflix's 2019 movie "Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile."

In 2009, Zac Efron starred in "17 Again" and played the teenage version of Matthew Perry's character.
In 2009, Zac Efron starred in "17 Again" and played the teenage version of Matthew Perry's character.

Brent N. Clarke/Invision/AP

It's unclear when Efron and costar Vanessa Hudgens began dating in real life, but they split in 2010

Since "HSM," Efron showed off his smooth moves as Link Larkin in the 2007 movie "Hairspray." He also led R-rated films like "That Awkward Moment," "Neighbors," "Dirty Grandpa," "Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates," and "Baywatch."

In December 2017, the actor starred in "The Greatest Showman" alongside Zendaya and Hugh Jackman. The actor also voiced the character Gary on the animated Facebook Watch series "Human Discoveries."

Efron has a YouTube channel, where he posts fitness and travel videos, too.

Next, he'll star on a travel series for Netflix titled "Down to Earth With Zac Efron."

Gabriella Montez was portrayed by Vanessa Hudgens.

Gabriella wore a necklace with Troy's initial on it.
Gabriella wore a necklace with Troy's initial on it.

Disney Channel

Gabriella was one of the smartest students in her class. She was shy, but showcased her fun side whenever she took the stage for a performance. 

Hudgens has made a name for herself as both an actress and singer.

Vanessa Hudgens has a dog named Darla.
Vanessa Hudgens has a dog named Darla.

Charles Sykes/Invision/AP

Hudgens released two albums (one in 2006 and the other in 2008). In 2012, she starred in "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island" with Dwayne Johnson and "Spring Breakers" with Selena Gomez

She hit Broadway with the titular role in the musical "Gigi," which ran for a few months in 2015. The actress also sang and danced as Rizzo in "Grease Live!," starred on the short-lived NBC sitcom "Powerless," and was a judge on Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance."

These days, Hudgens is keeping busy on-screen and off-screen. She appeared on the big screen in two films released in 2018, "Dog Days" with Nina Dobrev and "Second Act" with Jennifer Lopez, and starred in the Netflix thriller "Polar." 

She also played Maureen Johnson in Fox's "Rent: Live." 

Hudgens played two roles in the Netflix Christmas movie "The Princess Switch," which will be getting a sequel. She starred in another holiday movie for the streaming service called "The Knight Before Christmas."

The actress dated actor Austin Butler for nine years, but their split was revealed in January 2020.

 

 

Ashley Tisdale played mean girl Sharpay Evans.

Sharpay Evans was always jealous of Troy and Gabriella's relationship.
Sharpay Evans was always jealous of Troy and Gabriella's relationship.

Disney Channel

Sharpay loved attention, and didn't appreciate people who were also gifted performers. 

Ashley Tisdale is now an actress, singer, beauty founder, and executive producer.

Ashley Tisdale is BFFs with Vanessa Hudgens in real life.
Ashley Tisdale is BFFs with Vanessa Hudgens in real life.

Faye Sadou/MediaPunch /IPX

Prior to "HSM," Tisdale was already Disney Channel royalty for her role as Maddie on "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody." She continued playing the Tipton hotel's candy counter girl until the show ended in 2008 and voiced the character Candace on "Phineas and Ferb."

The singer dropped two albums (in 2007 and 2009), and also released her third studio album, titled  "Symptoms," in May 2020.

She tied the knot with musician Christopher French in 2014 and branched into beauty with the creation of Illuminate Cosmetics in 2016.

Tisdale currently stars as Jenny Kenney on the CBS sitcom "Carol's Second Act" and  Kayla on Netflix's "Merry Happy Whatever."

 

 

Lucas Grabeel played Sharpay's brother, Ryan Evans.

Ryan Evans has a great sense of style.
Ryan Evans has a great sense of style.

Disney Channel

He was constantly forced to participate in schemes with his fraternal sister. But Chad gained a newfound sense of respect for Ryan after they danced to a baseball-themed routine in the sequel. 

After "HSM," Grabeel went on to voice characters on popular TV shows.

Lucas Grabeel in September 2018.
Lucas Grabeel in September 2018.

Paul Archuleta/Getty Images

You might have recognized the actor's voice on shows like "Elena of Avalor" and "Family Guy." He also voiced a hot dog on the Nickelodeon and Netflix show "Pinky Malinky." 

Additionally, he starred as Toby Kennish on the drama series "Switched at Birth" and competed on the Food Network's "Chopped" in 2014.

Acting aside, Grabeel is part of a folk-rock band called Midnight Holler

When Grabeel teamed up with Tisdale in 2017 to sing "What I've Been Looking For" (popularized by the first "HSM" film) the former costars revealed a surprising detail about their relationship. 

"We were not close," Tisdale recalled. "We were not good friends, let's be honest." 

Grabeel added that they "didn't get off on the best foot," but nowadays they love each other. 

Troy's wingman, Chad Danforth, was played by Corbin Bleu.

Even though he didn't want to associate himself with musicals, Chad Danforth was clearly an impeccable dancer.
Even though he didn't want to associate himself with musicals, Chad Danforth was clearly an impeccable dancer.

Disney Channel

In a 2007 interview, Bleu revealed that he actually came up with the creative and fun catchphrases that were written on Chad's shirts.  

"I kept the one that said, 'I worship waffles,'" he added.

Bleu went on to become a Broadway star.

Corbin Bleu starred in a DCOM of his own titled "Jump In!"
Corbin Bleu starred in a DCOM of his own titled "Jump In!"

Walter McBride/Getty Images

He starred in productions of "In the Heights," "Godspell," and "Holiday Inn." Bleu returned to Broadway in a 2019 revival of "Kiss Me, Kate!"

The actor was also the runner-up on season 17 of ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" and released two albums.  

He guest-starred on episodes of "Castle," "The Good Wife," "The Fosters," "Chicago Med," and "Supergirl."

In 2016, Bleu married actress Sasha Clements.

Monique Coleman starred as Taylor McKessie.

She is Gabriella's best friend.
She is Gabriella's best friend.

Disney Channel

Taylor was the leader of East High's scholastic decathlon team and selected as the activities coordinator at Lava Springs. 

Coleman now uses her platform to empower others.

Monique Coleman married Walter Jordan in 2012.
Monique Coleman married Walter Jordan in 2012.

David Livingston/Getty Images

Aside from her Instagram being filled with inspirational messages, Coleman was named the United Nations' first-ever "Youth Champion" for her efforts to improve the lives of young people. 

She is also a "Champion" for Girl Up, an organization that strives to help young women become leaders.

Like Bleu, actress competed on "DWTS." She participated in 2006 and finished in fourth place. Coleman still remains good friends with Bleu and sat down to interview him for an episode of her talk show, "Gimme Mo." 

Songwriter and pianist Kelsi Nielsen was played by Olesya Rulin.

Kelsi Nielsen was an introvert.
Kelsi Nielsen was an introvert.

Disney Channel

She wrote the song "You Are the Music in Me" for Troy and Gabriella.

Rulin runs a blog where she answers questions from fans, shares wellness and beauty tips, and writes about fashion.

Olesya Rulin in October 2019.
Olesya Rulin in October 2019.

Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images

Most recently, the actress starred in the TV movie "Devious Nanny." She also appeared on shows like "SEAL Team," "The Night Shift," "NCIS," and "The Mentalist."

She's quite close with Coleman and thanked her for "cheering me on and making me see my own potential. All while helping young people around the world achieve their dreams."

 

 

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