But when it comes to which musical the kids in the factory Pennsylvania town of Rise will take on in a given season, EP Jason Katims says “What (musicals we’ll do in the future, depends on where the story is coming from; what are the characters going through? We’d choose a (Broadway) show that resonates with that.”
In its first season, the students in Rise played by Damon J. Gillespie and Moana actress Auli’i Cravahlo will tackle Spring Awakening, which is based on the 1891 play about German teenagers coming in tune with their sexuality in the 19th century.
“There’s a meta thing in how the community opposes Spring Awakening and how we navigate that,” says Radnor.
In prepping the episode, Katims, who writes and EPs, said he went to see a Pacific Palisades high school production of Spring Awakening and even spoke to the director after the show. “She told me about all the wonderful parts about directing it and the challenges of it. Just like Lou in the show, there are certain aspects of the musical that the (school) administration wanted to censor.”
Rise, based on the Michael Sokolove novel Drama High, premieres on March 13 at 10 PM PST immediately following the season finale of This Is Us. Rise will then move to its regular 9 PM time slot the following Tuesday, March 20.
The show follows dedicated teacher and family man Lou Mazzuchelli who sheds his own self-doubt and takes over the school’s lackluster theater department, he galvanizes not only the faculty and students but the entire working-class town. Inspired by a true story. The series also stars Rosie Perez, Marley Shelton, Rarmian Newton, Ted Sutherland, Amy Forsyth, Casey Johnson, Taylor Richardson, Joseph Tippett, and Shirley Rumierk. Mike Cahill directs and executive produces the pilot. Michelle Lee, Jeffrey Seller and Flody Suarez also executive produce. Rise is produced by Universal Television, True Jack Productions and Seller Suarez Productions.