‘High School Musical’ star Lucas Grabeel weighs in on a long-debated outfit swap between Ryan and Chad in the sequel

Corbin Bleu and Lucas Grabeel in ‘High School Musical 2.’ Disney Channel
  • “HSM” star Lucas Grabeel spoke to Insider about Ryan and Chad’s outfit swap in the 2007 sequel.
  • Fans have speculated that the characters had crushes on each other, but Grabeel said that wasn’t true.
  • He said director Kenny Ortega suggested the swap and it “wasn’t meant to be this homoerotic thing.”
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

High School Musical” star Lucas Grabeel revealed how the intricate “I Don’t Dance” number came to life in the 2007 sequel and explained the backstory behind Ryan Evans and Chad Danforth’s outfit swap that occurred moments later.

“That was definitely one of my favourite numbers of the whole franchise,” Grabeel told Insider during an interview for the 15th anniversary of “HSM.”

The “I Don’t Dance” scene occurred about an hour into the movie. During the scene, Ryan and Chad (portrayed by Corbin Bleu) simultaneously danced and played baseball as Chad insisted that he was an athlete — not a performer.

Grabeel said that the scene, which was filmed over two days, was “difficult” and involved intricate choreography. And although he played baseball as a kid, he was a bit rusty.

To prepare for the musical number, he and the cast participated in dance rehearsals in the mornings and baseball practices in the afternoons. A real baseball team was also brought in to help them and some of those players ended up in the actual sequence.

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Corbin Bleu and Lucas Grabeel in ‘High School Musical 2.’ Disney Channel

Grabeel also recalled the scene being “challenging” because he had knee surgery prior to beginning rehearsals for the sequel. Plus, he and the cast had embarked on a concert tour, which prevented his knee from healing properly.

“I think actually the whole time of doing that number, I’m wearing two knee braces and a back brace because I had just screwed up my body so much,” the actor said. So every time [director Kenny Ortega] yelled ‘cut,’ I would just collapse in pain.”

Despite the obstacles, Grabeel said that the scene was “still so much fun and putting two of my favourite things together” and he’s proud of how the number came out.

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Lucas Grabeel and Corbin Bleu in ‘High School Musical 2.’ Disney Channel

“I Don’t Dance” was also a fan-favourite scene from “HSM 2,” and sparked theories about Ryan and Chad’s dynamic.

People suggested that the song was a metaphor for sexuality and experimentation, and that the two characters had sexual tension throughout.

Adding to the theory that Ryan and Chad had feelings for each other was their unexplained outfit swap that happened after the number.

While eating at a bench after the game, Ryan was seen wearing Chad’s East High cap and traditional baseball jersey in the school’s signature red and white shades. Meanwhile, Chad donned Ryan’s all-white ensemble and striped hat.

Aside from Taylor (Monique Coleman) saying, ‘Nice hat’ to Chad, no one else explained or commented on the moment.

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Corbin Bleu and Lucas Grabeel in ‘High School Musical 2.’ Disney Channel

“It wasn’t a long-term premeditated thing,” Grabeel told Insider of the outfit switch.

The actor said that after filming the musical number, they were “playing around with some dialogue and different ways we could do it” for the scene that followed.

“Kenny just at the last minute was like, ‘Why don’t you guys wear each other’s hats?’ And we were like, ‘Oh, OK, cool.’ And then he’s like, ‘Actually, why don’t you wear each other’s shirts, too?” Grabeel recalled.

The actor said that the point of “I Don’t Dance” was to show that despite Ryan and Chad’s differences, as a theatre kid and a jock, they could come together and see eye to eye. The scene also proved to Chad that his assumptions about Ryan not being a baseball player were incorrect, and that dancing could be cool.

Grabeel also said that the sequence complemented Ryan’s journey in the sequel, as he began distancing himself from being Sharpay’s (Ashley Tisdale) sidekick and got to know his classmates.

“It wasn’t meant to be this homoerotic thing,” Grabeel said of costume swap, “But I think that Kenny knew a little bit more about how that was going to come out. And the thing is, is that he could have changed that in editing because I think we shot it both ways.”

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Corbin Bleu and Lucas Grabeel in ‘High School Musical 2.’ Disney Channel

The actor said that if people watched that scene without the full context of the sequel and the first film, then “it definitely looks that way and it’s cheeky and silly and really fun and maybe hot to some people, I don’t know.”

“But yeah, it didn’t really have that initial [undertone],” Grabeel said, adding that “I Don’t Dance” was both “masculine and artistic” and felt like an old-school Hollywood number.

“I think that went over a lot of people’s heads and I think people read into it incorrectly. I don’t think that it had anything to do with us liking each other. I think it had everything to do with our teams and our ultimate goals as to work together and to break down barriers between each other.”

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Lucas Grabeel and Corbin Bleu in ‘High School Musical 2.’ Disney Channel

Grabeel also said that he’s surprised that people have theorised about Ryan and Chad based on “I Don’t Dance,” because actually, Ryan had a crush on jock and baker Zeke Baylor (Chris Warren).

“It’s funny that people talk more about that than they do about Ryan and Zeke, because it’s even more overt in my opinion,” he said, explaining that there were subtle moments (many of which got cut from the films) in which Ryan looked at Zeke adoringly or was eager to accept his baked treats.