You might remember Lucas Grabeel as Sharpay’s sassy brother in the High School Musical franchise, but Grabeel has since put the glitter gun down, and has come a long way from his Disney days. Now starring in ABC Family’s hit drama series Switched at Birth, Grabeel’s excited about his new role. But through it all, he’s never forgotten that he got his start in a high school musical, literally.
“I think I was about 12 years old,” Grabeel recalls, “when I was asked to be a part of, ironically, a high school musical. The local high school needed a younger kid to play a role and I auditioned and they asked me to do it. I honestly knew after the first night that I wanted to be an actor,” he says.
When he nabbed the role of Ryan Evans, Sharpay’s brother and jazz-hand enthusiast, Grabeel was excited for the part, but had no idea how much it would change his life. “We got to live so much life in such a short amount of time. We met fans and saw what it was like to be recognized. It was so amazing to have kids come up to you and see them get so excited about meeting you,” he says.
The best part of the whole thing, Grabeel says, was that the cast knew that they had something special--not because of the fame and success of the franchise, but because of how close knit everyone became. “We really became a family—the whole team. It was a lot of people, but we all got really close. I miss everyone and it’s really crazy how long ago it was,” he says. It was six years ago, you guys!
His current role, though seriously lacking in sequins, is not lacking in drama. The premise of Switched at Birth is pretty simple: basically, two girls get accidentally switched at birth. But, obviously, things get more complex as the truth comes out. “There are these two families that come together because of this mishap and I play Toby, the brother in the richer of the two families. There’s a lot of drama,” Grabeel explains, “and Toby gets to kind of stand back and watch it all unfold. I get to sing a bit, which I really like.” We like it too, Lucas. We like it a lot.
Grabeel really enjoys playing Toby, though it can be a challenge at times. “I was always raised as an only child so it’s kind of cool to have a sibling on the show. I also love that the writers made Toby real. He’s not a caricature he’s very realistic. But I’m a 27 year old playing a 17 year old, so that’s kind of tough,” he says.
The season finale of Switched at Birth premieres tonight on ABC Family at 8pm! Grabeel promises it won’t disappoint: “the show is always full of surprises, so everyone watch!”