Corbin Bleu Reveals There's a “High School Musical” Group Text — Here's Who's Still Chatting (Exclusive)

"I'm grateful to have been a part of such a beautiful thing," actor Bleu tells PEOPLE of the beloved franchise

Fred Hayes/Disney Channel Zac Efron and Corbin Bleu in 2006
Fred Hayes/Disney Channel Zac Efron and Corbin Bleu in 2006's 'High School Musical'

High School Musical could graduate high school this year.

The film marked its 18th anniversary in January, and to star Corbin Bleu, "it still is staggering to me how much of an impact that it continues to have," he tells PEOPLE.

Speaking exclusively with PEOPLE backstage at his Broadway show Little Shop of Horrors, the actor, 35, says he remains "grateful" to fans new and old for continuing to give the Disney Channel Original Movies life.

"There are new generations that continue to experience it, and be introduced to it," he says. "And I feel like at this point, it's just a part of the musical theater canon. And I'm honestly just grateful. I'm grateful to have been a part of such a beautiful thing."

Related: Look Back at All the 'High School Musical' Cast Reunions Over the Years

"When I look back on it now," he continues, "it is my childhood, and it is something that I would never trade for the world."

Though people sometimes ask if the attention he gets for HSM gets old, he replies, "There was a time where I was trying to distance myself from it to try to do other things. But at this point now when I look on it, I feel like it's just a completely different person that I can look at, and go, 'We did that.' "

Revealing that there is in fact a cast group text, Bleu says he "still gets to see everybody here and there," adding that former costars Monique Coleman and Lucas Grabeel both came to see him in his role of Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors on Broadway recently,

Related: 'High School Musical' Cast: Where Are They Now?

As for stepping into the part of ill-fated Seymour in the classic musical (written by longtime Disney collaborators Alan Menken and Howard Ashman), Bleu says it's "a production that I've always wanted to do — but never knew that I would actually have the opportunity to do."

It's a show he's loved since he was a kid, he adds, in a medium he has a passion for, as well.

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"Theater is my joy and my love," he shares. "The theater community — I love the people. And I love the opportunity to actually have a once-in-a-lifetime experience with the audience."

As for returning to movies and TV, he teases "never say never" about a reboot of the original High School Musical someday.

Plus, he has something to return to the set.

"I have that basketball that I used for all three movies," Bleu admits.

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