Ever since Ryan McCartan played Diggie Smalls in the Disney Channel series Liv and Maddie, we’ve all been pretty obsessed with him. The actor also appeared in the Fox musical television film The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again, the off-Broadway production of Heathers: The Musical and he also played Fiyero in Broadway’s Wicked. Oh, and did we mention that he recently released an EP called Seventh Avenue? It’s full of bops, if you ask us.

Most recently though, the talented singer and songwriter teamed up with Rodgers & Hammerstein organization, where he recorded an amazing cover of the classic “This Nearly Was Mine” from the play South Pacific for a new video series called R&H Goes Pop! And lucky for us, the 26-year-old spilled all the tea on the new vid exclusively to J-14. Make sure to watch it above!

“I partnered with the Rodgers & Hammerstein organization earlier this year. They’ve launched this R&H Goes Pop! series and I thought that I’d be a great for it. As you well know, I have a younger audience from my Liv and Maddie days on the Disney Channel, but also from Heathers: The Musical and from different things like that. I thought I would be a good fit for it because the whole purpose of putting these classics in a contemporary light is to inspire younger generations to interpret and fall in love with the classics and the way that previous generations have,” he told us. “I thought that I would be a great conduit to sort of link what the Rodgers & Hammerstein organization is trying to do with a pool of younger people who might not be familiar with Rodgers & Hammerstein and the beautiful music that they wrote. The video was just another extension of the song, another way to get more eyeballs and more ears on what we’re all trying to do together. I’m really proud of the video, I think it’s beautiful. I can’t wait for people to see it.”

As for why he chose to cover “This Nearly Was Mine,” the actor explained that the song and South Pacific are a huge part of his life.

South Pacific is really important to me personally. I did the musical in high school, I played Lt. Joseph Cable … and that was the first time that I won an award for making art. It was sort of this bridge for me of, ‘Oh, I thought this was just a hobby. I thought this was just something I was doing for fun but it’s actually something that’s taken very seriously by certain communities and maybe I could take this seriously too,'” Ryan said. “So it was just very important for my personal growth. South Pacific, for those reasons, has always been my favorite Rodgers & Hammerstein musical and so I wanted to sing something from it and this felt like a really good fit.”

But it turns out, the former Disney star’s all-time favorite play is Spring Awakening.

“I get a lot of high school students telling me that Heathers: The Musical was like the album that like got them through high school. Like, ‘This album really spoke to me and was a channel for the teen angst that we go through.’ And that was Spring Awakening for me,” he continued. “I thought when I heard that album, ‘Oh my God, they’re talking to me. This is my life, no one [else] understands me.’ It always sort of has that special place in my heart of like, this music helped develop who I am.”

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