Lucas Grabeel Returns
Lucas Grabeel’s coming back to the world of High School Musical, but will he play a gay role this time?
Disney+ recently announced that more of the cast from the original High School Musical movies will be joining the streaming series. According to Decider, this includes Corbin Bleu, who starred as Chad Danforth in the original movies; Lucas Grabeel, who played Ryan Evans; Monique Coleman, who played Taylor McKessie; Kaycee Stroh, who played Martha Cox; Bart Johnson, who played Troy’s dad Coach Bolton; and Alyson Reed who played Mrs. Darbus. All of those actors will return for High School Musical: The Musical: The Series Season 4.
But that’s not all, Kylie Cantrall, Matthew Sato, Caitlin Reilly, and Vasthy Mompoint are set to join the cast in recurring guest star roles. Cantrall (Ron’s Gone Wrong) will play a social media star named Dani; Matthew Sato (Hawaii Five-O) will play a sitcom actor named Mack; Reilly (Hacks) will be a film director named Quinn; and Mompoint (The Prom) will play a choreographer named Krystal.
A Gay Ryan Evans?
But when it comes to Lucas Grabeel, there’s a chance for some LGBTQ representation. Previously, Grabeel appeared on the streaming show as himself. Now, season 4 will see Grabeel returning to his Ryan Evans role. As JustJaredJr reports, on the season’s plot:
“After an epic summer at Camp Shallow Lake, the Wildcats return to East High where they will prepare a stage production of High School Musical 3: Senior Year. But plans are disrupted when Principal Gutierrez announces that Disney has decided to make the long-awaited High School Musical 4: The Reunion movie on location at their beloved high school, and our Wildcats will be playing featured extras in the movie. It’s season four, and it’s now or never.”
So, Ryan Evans will return. But will he be gay? Back in 2020, High School Musical director Kenny Ortega confirmed that he believes the character would come out later in life.
“I put a lot of who I am into my work,” Ortega confessed in an interview at the time. “I mean, really all the way back from the earliest work that I’ve done, even as a choreographer in film and television. And I think, yeah, that it’s just there, and whether it’s screaming at you, or whether it’s just sort of quietly there, it’s there.”
He added, “The character of Ryan [played by Lucas Grabeel] in ‘High School Musical,’ Sharpay’s twin brother, we decided he’d probably going to come out in college. It was less about coming out and just more about letting his true colors come forward.”
As for why Ortega says he didn’t make the character openly gay at the time, he thought it would have been unlikely to get approved.
“I didn’t think at the time — and Disney is the most progressive group of people I’ve ever worked with,” Ortega confessed.
He continued, “I was concerned because it was family and kids, that Disney might not be ready to cross that line and move into that territory yet. So, I just took it upon myself to make choices that I felt that those who were watching would grab. They would see it, they would feel it, they would know it and they would identify with it. And that is what happened.”
Since then, Disney has introduced gay characters to its Disney Channel and Disney+ streaming platform. From a main character coming out as gay in the show Andi Mack, to the gay romance subplot in High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. So, it seems like Disney would now be a open to showing Ryan Evans as gay. But will they do it? We’ll see when season 4 debuts in 2023.