HSMTMTS Showrunner Shares Lucas Grabeel’s Emotional Reaction to His Character Coming Out

HSMTMTS showrunner Tim Federle reflected on the moment he approached Lucas Grabeel about confirming his character Ryan Evans as gay.

By Hayley Santaflorentina Aug 11, 2023 5:29 PMTags
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Tim Federle, the showrunner for High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, recalled the moment he told Lucas Grabeel about the scene that confirmed the iconic character's sexuality, sharing that his reaction was an emotional one.

"I called Lucas," Tim told TVLine in a video published August 9. "And I said, 'I want to make sure you're comfortable with this.' He is the keeper of the Ryan flame for 15 years, and I wanted to make sure that for him, it felt like the right evolution."

He continued, "And Lucas cried on the phone and said, 'This would mean so much to people who grew up with this movie, it's what they were always kind of missing from this character, this evolution.' So to have Ryan be happily partnered and kissing a guy at his high school reunion is, I think, a pretty big deal. It's one of the really special things we got to do with the franchise this season."

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The fourth, and final, season of the TV spinoff features a return of many original cast members, including Corbin Bleu (Chad), Monique Coleman (Taylor), Kaycee Stroh (Martha), Bart Johnson (Coach Bolton) and Alyson Reed (Ms. Darbus), in addition to Lucas. 

As the real-life actors return to East High to film a fictional fourth HSM movie as their character counterparts, Chad, Taylor, Martha and Ryan hit the stage (as part of the movie) to film a musical number.

David Livingston / Stringer

Prior to the performance, Lucas' Ryan can be seen running backstage where he is greeted by his partner, played by Pentatonix's Scott Hoying.

"It means so much to me that you're here," Ryan says to his boyfriend, who replies, "I love you." The two then share a kiss before Ryan jokes, "Now give me that mic," and takes to the stage. 

And while Kenny Ortega, the director of the original trilogy, has said he'd always intended Ryan to be a queer character, he felt as though audiences weren't ready when the first movie musical premiered in 2006. 

But now, Tim says Disney was more than ready to bring that longtime vision to life. 

"Disney has always really had my back to tell the most inclusive stories we could with this show," Tim continued to TVLine. "I know my executives read the script and wrote back, 'Oh my gosh we love this so much.' They just really genuinely couldn't wait to see that come to life."

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