'Musical' Cast Talks Fame and Future

Sure, Disney Channel's original movie "High School Musical" was an unprecedented ratings phenomenon for the network and also spawned a certified double platinum soundtrack, but a more compelling sign of its success is that one fan had to give it up for Lent.

"She watched it every day and she had to stop," says Lucas Grabeel who plays Ryan Evans, half of a brother-sister act in the film. The actor was on his phone on the streets of New York when the girl approached him to confess how "High School Musical" interfered with her homework.

Grabeel has also received invitations to attend strangers' graduations, and his mother had to change her phone number because of all the calls resulting from his newfound fame. Luckily, most fans are just content to spontaneously serenade the cast members with songs from the film.

"We grew up watching these movies, musicals, and when everyone would break into song and start singing, those were the best parts," says Zac Efron, who plays basketball player Troy. "But that slowly started to fade away recently, so I think it was great that our movie was able to bring that back. We used pop and rock and just some cool, funky grooves that kids could relate to."

The modern-day "Grease" centers on scholastic opposites Troy and Gabriella (Vanessa Anne Hudgens), a jock and a brain who surprise their peers by trying out for their school's musical. Twins Ryan (Grabeel) and Sharpay (Ashley Tisdale), used to playing the leads in all the school plays, feel threatened, while Troy's basketball teammate Chad (Corbin Bleu) is afraid the play will distract Troy from the championship game. Similarly, scholastic decathlon teammate Taylor (Monique Coleman) wants Gabriella to keep her head lyric-free to study for their big meet.

With choreographer Kenny Ortega ("Dirty Dancing," "Xanadu," "Newsies") also directing, "High School Musical" became a dance-heavy film that required the actors to keep up physically. According to the cast, Bleu and Grabeel were the best dancers, making their onscreen partners Coleman and Tisdale look good. Hudgens didn't have such luck. Apparently, Efron was the least skilled hoofer in the group.

"Oh yeah, he was definitely the most improved," says Coleman, laughing at Grabeel's off-rhythm imitation of their co-star. "No, he wasn't that bad, but he wasn't the suavest thing on two feet."

While the cast denies rumors of romance on the set, it's obvious that they enjoy each other's company.

"Kenny Ortega would put together Teen Club Night ... having a little club scene just for us and the dancers," says Tisdale. "That was really cool and I think that's why the experience was so amazing and maybe why this movie has become so successful because they saw how much fun we were having."

In fact, Tisdale's dad was surprised that even siblings Ryan and Sharpay seemed to get along so well onscreen, something the actress credits to the mysterious bond of twinship. If Grabeel has his way, though, he'd like to see Ryan free himself from Sharpay's overbearing influence in the upcoming sequel.

"Ryan would break away from Sharpay and leave a little note saying, 'I'm leaving you. Good luck,' and go to Broadway and try and make it," he says, while Tisdale adds that she hopes her character will finally get revenge on Troy and Gabriella.

Coleman isn't concerned about the plot for the sequel, but just wants science-geek Taylor to have a dance sequence.

"It doesn't really have to make sense," she muses. "Like the basketball number 'Get'cha Head in the Game,' maybe I can dance with some chemistry [equipment], you know, like 'Don't Burn Up the Lab.'"

And what about the two wannabe lovebirds who were just about to smooch at the end of "High School Musical" before Chad interrupted?

"I think I'd like Gabriella to break out of her shell a little more, be a little more spontaneous and have more fun," says Hudgens. "And I know the fans want Troy and Gabriella to kiss."

"I think there's not much more I can ask for," adds Efron. "If Troy gets any cooler, he'll explode. I wish I was more like Troy. He can just keep on doing what he's doing."

The "High School Musical: Encore Edition" DVD and the special edition 2-disc soundtrack debut on Tuesday, May 23. The sequel film is planned for 2007.