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Photo: ‘Spring Awakening’
‘Spring Awakening: Those You’ve Known,’ is a documentary that displays the first-hand experiences of the original cast and crew that was involved with the making of this Broadway musical sensation. In this documentary film the entire original team returns for a one-night benefit show during the full height of the pandemic. ‘Spring Awakening: Those You’ve Known,’ depicts the cultural importance of this revolutionary play and what it has ultimately meant for those involved, not only for their careers but for the role it has had in shaping who they are as individuals. This which went on to win multiple Tony awards and swept the nation by storm is significant for the subject matter and difficult topics that it covers in its form and content. Not only is it ground-breaking for this reason, but it is also unique in the fact that it is inspired by a century-old play and combines this work with a modern musical style of contemporary rock. ‘Spring Awakening: Those You’ve Known,’ offers great insight into what this play meant as a cultural symbol and how it contributed to the transformation of society.
‘Spring Awakening: Those You’ve Known’: The Reunion of The Original Cast and Creative Team
In the new documentary special ‘Spring Awakening: Those You’ve Known,’ this behind-the-scenes film captures the reunion of the original cast and team of the Broadway musical hit ‘Spring Awakening.’ This documentary sees the return of stars Lea Michele and Jonathan Groff, who play the lead characters and swooned lovers of the musical. Amazingly enough, for this one-night-only benefit show “for The Actor’s Fund during the pandemic,” this musical saw the return of the entire creative team and cast that was featured in the founding of the Broadway hit. While the pandemic impacted the entire world with harmful ramifications for the public’s health and livelihood alike, it also provided the opportunity for the unexpected reunion of a group of people that hadn’t worked together in over a decade. Clearly upon learning how impactful this play was for the young actors who starred in this musical, those involved with ‘Spring Awakening,’ bonded over the difficult and delicate subjects that this play discusses in its content.
Many of the original cast members were still in high school when this play first opened to the public, and working alongside each other and dealing with subjects that related closely to their formative lives in the real world, offered them a unique experience to learn and grow from the subject matter of the play they were so closely integrated with. Now watching the return of the cast behind, ‘Spring Awakening,’ it is easy to see the effect that this musical has had on not only those involved with the making of the play, but rather society as a whole. When the cast returns on stage for the one-night benefit show, they are greeted with a roar of applause that washes over the stage like a wave and reflects the vast impact that a show like this has had on the culture and youth of America.
‘Spring Awakening: Those You’ve Known’ Depicts An in-Depth, Behind The Scenes View of The Cast of This Tony-Winning Broadway Musical
‘Spring Awakening: Those You’ve Known,’ offers an in-depth portrayal of the cast and actors that were involved in the making of the hit musical. Much of the documentary focuses on the personal experiences of the cast and crew, as well as the history of how the play was first developed. Upon hearing the members speak about what the play has meant to them and how it has shaped their futures, it is clear to see the appreciation and thankfulness that each member has had for being a part of such a renowned play. A particularly significant effect that the play has had on one cast member’s life is depicted in the interviews with lead star Jonathan Groff. Jonathan came from an Amish community in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, with little experience living in a world away from his family. Not only did Groff grapple with being separated from his family and thrust into the spotlight, but he dealt with coming to terms with his sexuality as a “closeted,” gay man.
Jonathan, in ‘Spring Awakening: Those You’ve Known,’ describes how when he first started acting for the musical he had not yet revealed his sexuality to anyone. Groff explains how much of his life he struggled with his own self-acceptance with who he was. It was not until he was able to step into the character of “Melchior,” and live through the “experiences” of someone else dealing with their personal understanding, that Groff was finally able to accept who he was. Groff states in an interview a few months after ‘Spring Awakening’ finally ended, he came out with his sexuality and he said that now he’s proud of who he is and he couldn’t imagine himself any other way! The power that this play has had on those involved is evident in the fondness that each cast and team member elaborates upon when they look back at their time working with this musical. It has transformed many of their lives and has left a lasting impact of benefit and personal growth for everyone.
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‘Spring Awakening: Those You’ve Known’: What Has The Success of This Play Meant for Those Involved?
The success of ‘Spring Awakening,’ has meant everything to those involved with the formulation of this musical. All of the cast is made of people who were a part of this musical before it was ever noteworthy or had any claim to success. At the beginning of it being formed, there were many producers who turned down the chance to promote or be involved with the play because they thought that it had no long-term potential. Even long after the original ‘Spring Awakening,’ first opening, when it was offered the opportunity to move to Broadway, the majority of the seating and tickets remained unsold. Many of the cast members’ interviews in the documentary describe the unsettling feeling that each play could be their last and that the show was failing to draw an audience. It was not until the 2007 Tony Awards Show where ‘Spring Awakening,’ won eight awards that night, that it was catapulted to fame. After its critical success everything changed and night after night, the show was sold out with lines of people waiting around the block to see this musical.
‘Spring Awakening,’ changed the entire cast and teams’ lives and swept through the nation as one of the most profound plays to ever be celebrated on Broadway. ‘Spring Awakening: Those You’ve Known,’ catalogs firsthand the crew’s experience with this dramatic transformation and reflects the true significance that this play had on the nation of America. This play which deals with real topics like sexual assault, suicide, teen pregnancy, and the struggle of teenagers or people in general in finding their way in life ultimately reflects the inconsistencies and transgressions of society. People assumed that this show would fail because it covered such sensitive subjects but rather it succeeded because many people do struggle with the difficult and darker parts of life. ‘Spring Awakening,’ was revolutionary because it was unafraid to give a voice to many painful issues. Even today its topics are relevant and utterly necessary for society to discuss and comprehend.
Director: Michael John Warren
Writer: Steven Sater
Cast: Skylar Astin, Gerard Canonico, Lilli Cooper, Jennifer Damiano, Christine Estabrook, John Gallagher Jr., Gideon Glick, Jonathan Groff, Robi Hager, Brian Charles Johnson, Lea Michele, Lauren Pritchard, Stephen Spinella, Phoebe Strole, Jonathan B. Wright, Remy Zaken
By Thomas Jacobs
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Thomas Jacobs is an avid writer, Cinema aficionado, and filmmaker. He graduated with Dean’s Honors from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a major in Film and Digital Media. His passion is directly tied to the appreciation and creation of film and television, and this fact is reflected in his intent to be a writer for the acclaimed entertainment journal, The Hollywood Insider. His beliefs mirror the core goals and mission statement of The Hollywood Insider by sharing an admiration for quality entertainment as well as bolstering a sense of positivity and equality among all humans. Thomas believes that Cinema is an advantageous promoter of civil and social empowerment, and he shares a mutual societal view with The Hollywood Insider, that people should not be judged by the color of their skin, but the content of their character.