“Excited isn’t a strong enough word!” the actress, who rose to fame as Gabriella Montez on the Disney Channel’s High School Musical, tells PEOPLE about landing the title role in the Broadway-bound adaptation.
“I’ve been waiting for the right role to come along, and she appeared to me when I was least expecting it,” says Hudgens, 25. “It’s been a lot of fun prepping for Gigi … allowing myself to be as free as possible. I love this character, the music and play so much.”
The show goes into rehearsal Dec. 8 and will play at the Eisenhower Theater at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., from Jan. 16 to Feb. 12, prior to opening on Broadway in 2015 – although already Gigi has had quite a history, ever since her birth in Colette’s 1944 novella.
As for the star, “Making my Broadway debut with Gigi feels like a dream come true,” says Hudgens. “I couldn’t have planned it better myself.”