Jerry Simmers/Splash News
June 20, 2015 01:15 PM

From Gabriella Montez to Gigi!

Former High School Musical star Vanessa Hudgens made her Broadway debut earlier this year with the revival of Gigi, but she didn’t leave her Disney Channel skills behind.

Hudgens, 26, told PEOPLE at her Social Life Magazine cover party at the Absolut Elyx House in New York City on Friday that the hit TV movie series “definitely helped [her] prepare to be on Broadway.”

“It’s been amazing,” Hudgens says of her experience with Gigi. “It’s been the hardest I’ve ever worked. I’ve learned so much about myself.”

With the role having been played by actresses Audrey Hepburn and Leslie Caron in the past, Hudgens had some big shoes to fill. The actress explained, “You can’t replicate someone’s individuality so you bring your own individuality to the part and that’s what I did.”

Now that the show will draw to a close on Sunday, Hudgens admits it’s “bittersweet” to see her Broadway run come to an end.

“I’ve never done the eight show a week schedule, so it’s a grind,” she says. “I’m excited to have some time off.”

Hudgens will be moving on from Broadway to yet another musical. She will be playing Rizzo in a live broadcast production of Grease on Fox next year.

Looking ahead and at future projects, Hudgens says, “I’m excited.”

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