Photo courtesy of NBC
LA River School

Review: Live and Learn — ‘Rise’

“Rise” is a new teenage drama series shown on NBC. Yes, they dropped some inappropriate scenes and language more than a couple of times. Yes, the English teacher takes over the theater department and has to come up with a new production he wants to portray, but it may not quite be the wisest decision. There is also religion and friendship that fall apart but it does not end there.

Mr. Mazzuchelli (played by Josh Radnor) nails it by changing what Stanton High School produces, a one-note musical the school never changes, “Grease.” Mazzuchelli pushes the boundaries by selecting Spring Awakening as the new production. Emotional, humorous and sincere, “RISE,” is a series that makes a connection with teenagers and their distractions in high school.

“RISE” inspired by “Drama High,” is about two high school students who grew up together and have decided to change their schedule by signing up for the new production, Spring Awakening. Simon Saunders (played by Ted Sutherland) and Lillette Suarez (played by Auli’i Cravalho) play the role of Hanschen and Wendla in the show of Spring Awakening. They have difficulties on both sides, of their lives, the role and going to school.  

The principal and staff do not agree in portraying a production like Spring Awakening. They argue that no parent will see the play their kids have been wasting time on.

But Mazzuchelli takes the challenge of talking openly about abortion, teen suicide, LGBTQ and teenage sex. He has the support of the students and Tracey Wolfe (played by Rosie Perez) who is now replaced by the English teacher.

Lillette Suarez plays the main lead, Wendla in Spring Awakening who is a normal teenage girl who lives with her single mother, works as a waitress and has an affection towards a football player. Simon Saunders is the fifth lead who takes the role of Hanschen and has some issues when his devout Catholic parents disagree with the role.

Nothing stops Lillette and Simon from chasing after their dreams. The definition of rise is to move from a lower position to a higher one. It is not to undermine one another but to assist one another.

They are artists and it is their job and duty to reflect and connect with their community.

“Rise” airs on NBC Tuesdays at 9/8c

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