From Disney Channel to Broadway- Stars Who Have Made Their Debut!
Everyone loves a little nostalgia, especially when it comes to their favorite television shows and movies growing up. For millennials and Gen Z-ers, these probably include a few DCOMs (Disney Channel Original Movie) and series. Several of the stars of these films and TV shows have gone on to further their acting and singing careers on Broadway, and some even got their start on the stage. Below is a list of stars that you may or may not know have a few theatre credits under their belt!
After starring in three "High School Musical" films and "Jump In," Corbin Bleu got his head in the game in Broadway's "In the Heights" in 2010. In 2011, he played Seaweed in "Hairspray" at the Hollywood Bowl (where Nick Jonas also played Link). He recently finished his run as Lucentio/Bill Calhoun in the Roundabout Theatre Company's revival of "Kiss Me, Kate." Also with Roundabout in 2016, he played Ted in their original musical "Holiday Inn: The New Irving Berlin Musical." His other theatre credits included Jesus in 2011 Broadway revival of "Godspell," Billy Crocker in Arena Stages' "Anything Goes" and Don Lockwood in "Singin' in the Rain" at the St. Louis Municipal Opera Theatre.
Best known for playing both of the lead roles in "Liv and Maddie" and Mal in the "Descendants" film series on Disney, Dove Cameron made her professional stage debut at the Hollywood Bowl in 2017 as Sophie Sheridan in "Mamma Mia!" alongside Jennifer Nettles as Donna and fellow Disney alum Corbin Bleu as Sky. In 2018, she made her off-Broadway debut as Cher Horowitz in a sold-out run of "Clueless: The Musical" at The New Group World Premiere. Most recently she has earned acclaim in the West End's "The Light in Piazza" as Clara. She also played Amber Von Tussle in "Hairspray Live!" in 2016. Although she technically hasn't made her Broadway debut yet, she's bound to in the future!
Before starting her Disney career and starring in the "High School Musical" series as Gabriella Montez, Vanessa Hudgens performed in several musicals on stage. Her first notable stage gig also was at the Hollywood Bowl where she played Mimi Marquez in "Rent" in 2010. She later returned to the show in Fox's "Rent: Live" in 2019 but as Maureen Johnson. She also received rave reviews as Rizzo in "Grease: Live" in 2016. She made her Broadway debut in 2015 as the titular role in "Gigi" after the production's run at the Kennedy Center. Also at the Kennedy Center, she played Vanessa in "In the Heights" in 2018.
Anneliese Van Der Pol attended the Orange County High School of Arts and performed in several professional Los Angeles productions before landing "That's So Raven" in 2003. Fun fact: She played Eva Peron at 15-years-old and was the youngest actress in any professional production of "Evita." In 2007, she made her Broadway debut in "Beauty in the Beast" and was the last actress to play Belle in the musical's run. A year later she made her off-Broadway debut in "Vanities, A New Musical" as Kathy. Since, she has acted in several regional productions, including "Meet Me in St. Louis," "The Heiress" and "Thoroughly Modern Millie." In 2018, she played Lucille Ball in "The Cuban and the Redhead" at the Pegasus Theatre in Texas. Unlike several Disney Channel stars, she returned to the network in 2017 to reprise her role of Chelsea Daniels (now Chelsea Grayson) in the "That's So Raven" spinoff "Raven's Home."
Although Keke Palmer may be more considered a Nickelodeon star with her show "True Jackson, VP," she had originally signed a contract with the Disney Channel in 2005 to star in the show "Keke and Jamal." The pilot never aired, but she did star in the DCOM "Jump In" alongside Corbin Bleu. That being said, I'm considering her a Disney Channel star. She made her Broadway debut in September 2014 and made history as the first African-American to star in "Cinderella." Since closing the show in January of 2015, she hasn't made her return to the stage but was featured in "Grease: Live" as Marty Maraschino in 2016.
Call her, beep her! Christy Carlson Romano, Ren in "Even Stevens" and the voice of Kim Possible, performed on Broadway before making it big on the Disney Channel. She was in the original Broadway cast of "Parade" playing Mary Phagan in 1998 before taking over as Belle in "Beauty in the Beast" in 2004. She returned in 2008 as Kate Monster/Lucy in "Avenue Q" after appearing in "The Sound of Music" and "Will Rogers Follies." Most recently, she was seen on the stage in off-Broadway's "White's Lies" as Michelle in 2010.
The youngest Jonas Brothers (at least in the band) was in several Broadway shows in the early 2000s, including replacements for Little Jake in "Annie Get Your Gun," Chip in "Beauty in the Beast" and Gavroche in "Les Miserable." He was last seen on Broadway in 2012 with "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" as J. Pierrepont Finch (following Daniel Radcliffe and Darren Criss) and closed the show. In 2011 he played Link Larkin in the Hollywood Bowl's "Hairspray."
Kevin Chamberlin, the butler in "Jessie" and Dr. Fushion in "Teen Beach Movie," may have more Broadway credits than all of the actors and actresses on this list combined. Most notably, he earned both Tony and Drama Desk Award nominations for his work in "Dirty Blonde" (2000), "Seussical" (2001) and "The Addams Family" (2010). From 2018 to 2019 he played the Wizard in "Wicked" on Broadway and most recently Mr. Pontdue in Encores! production of "High Button Shoes" earlier this year.
After acting in "Camp Rock" and "Hannah Montana," Anna Maria Perez de Tagle took to the stage in 2011 revival of "Godspell" and received much praise for her rendition of the classic "Day by Day."
It shocked "High School Musical" fans everywhere when they found out Zac Efron didn't sing in the first film of the franchise, but rather it was Drew Seeley. (And it may shock you now to find out he co-wrote the song "Getcha Head in the Game.") After touring with "High School Musical: The Concert," he made his Broadway debut in the summer of 2009 as Prince Eric in "The Little Mermaid." He also starred as Bob Gaudio in "Jersey Boys" on Broadway in 2014 as well as in the first national tour in 2015.
The father on "Hannah Montana" and real-life father of Disney legend Miley Cyrus took his horse from the old town road to the Great White Way in 2012 when he took over the role of Billy Flynn in "Chicago" at the Ambassador Theatre. Before that, he made his stage debut in 2005 in "Annie Get Your Gun" as Frank Butler at Massey Hall in Toronto.
It's no surprise the drama teacher Ms. Darbus in the "High School Musical" films has played her fair share of roles in the theatre. Her most recent Broadway role was in 2003 when she was in "A Grand Night for Singing." She also played Sally Bowles in the 1987 revival of "Cabaret" and starred as Norma Jean/Marilyn Monroe in short-lived "Marilyn" in 1983. Her other Broadway credits include "Dance a Little Closer," "Oh, Brother" and "Dancin'."