The following contains descriptions of sexual assault and adult content.
spring awakening is one of the best Broadway musicals of all time – because it’s the antithesis of a Broadway musical. HBO Documentary Spring Awakening: Those You’ve Known dives into this contradictory nature with aplomb, explaining how something so controversial put together by a group of strangers became an entertainment phenomenon that launched superstars without losing any of its edge. It’s an interesting story on its own, but what makes special viewing required is that it makes for TV retrospectives this spring awakening made for musicals.
The ones you knew revolves around that of last year spring awakening reunion concert, which brought together the original Broadway cast for the first time in 15 years. Rather than just use it as a narrative device, Michael John Warren’s documentary lets audiences see the musical through an entirely new lens by giving it a modern context. This context revitalizes the project, whether it’s applying 15 years of experience, telling additional stories that add important color, or raising important talking points that haven’t been spoken before. There is a brand new version of spring awakening which comes to life through The ones you knew. It improves the way viewers watch one of Broadway’s most important shows – and retrospective television programs.
The retrospectives and anniversary specials follow a tried-and-true formula: They’re celebratory pieces aimed primarily at fans, while the cast and crew mostly share upbeat behind-the-scenes anecdotes and the thesis statement is how the project or franchise is awesome. They’re great fun to watch, but they don’t offer anything. Spring Awakening: Those You’ve Known breaks this pattern. It is accessible to everyone and everyone is honest about their experiences, which actually strengthens their argument. There is a mistaken belief that critically analyzing entertainment means being critical about it; The ones you knew proves that critical analysis allows viewers to appreciate something more, and explains why the reunion concert was the Broadway equivalent of Avengers: Endgame.
spring awakening in particular is a very personal work for many fans; the documentary separates viewers from this emotional experience and provides fans with the distance needed to understand the bigger picture. It seems impossible now to realize how many times the musical came close to failure; it is said categorically that without his 11 Tony nominations and eight wins, spring awakening would have closed. But it wasn’t understood until the Tony Awards projected it into people’s faces. It’s equally puzzling when Lauren Pritchard recalls how the resulting box office success landed her casting in a national GAP commercial — ironically turning teenage rebels into literal kids. Viewers see these aspects of production that make it clear that in any form of entertainment, it’s not just about being good or doing what the fans want; it’s a fight to make anything work, especially if it’s never been done before. Hopefully, the documentary will inspire creative second thoughts when fans often fail to understand all that is beyond their control.
But it is the actors who The ones you knew really reframes. Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist alum Skylar Astin portrayed spring awakening as an “awesome time” and there’s no better way to put it. The ones you knew This is the first time fans can clearly hear how the cast literally shed their blood, sweat and tears on stage. Fans know it’s devastating when Moritz takes his own life, but stepping back via the documentary and also being able to hear directly from the future The press room star John Gallagher Jr. himself, audiences contextualize this scene differently and understand how difficult it was for Gallagher to perform the act over and over again. Martha’s story arc is powerful because Lilli Cooper and Lauren Pritchard were literally giving voice to victims of sexual abuse, but it’s breathtaking with the context of Pritchard experiencing abuse herself. Some stories have already been told, but The ones you knew matters most because it’s not just the actors’ own words; it’s hearing their voices and seeing their emotions.
Spring Awakening: Those You’ve Known leads a discussion on the difficulty of making entertainment. There’s a tendency to get very hyperbolic on the subject because when behind-the-scenes stories are brought to the public’s attention, the stories and the response are overwhelmingly negative. The media often publicizes someone’s bad behavior or if the problem is real there are always multiple comments claiming they have no right to complain because they are “making millions of dollars” or don’t have a “real job” (see the new discussion on Katherine Heigl and Grey’s Anatomy). Actors’ experiences are as valid as anyone else’s, and The ones you knew does a great job of illustrating the point. They are emotionally and physically exhausted people, who would not have gone through the experience without each other. That doesn’t mean they’re any less grateful; they wouldn’t have gotten back together if there weren’t so many things they liked. But they gave way beyond what was expected or comfortable, and that story needs to be heard and respected as much as those eight Tony wins.
Where many viewers and the cast have lived spring awakening in adolescence, everyone experiences Spring Awakening: Those You’ve Known as adults, and those extra 15 years also provide additional new understanding of the play itself. As lyricist Steven Sater points out, viewers watch first spring awakening from the point of view of the children but then (in particular by “Left Behind”) come to see the adults. They connect with kids because they are, and the actors were, those kids, The ones you knew is this same shared experience but in adulthood. Some of the cast members are even parents now. For the first time, the full 180 degree image exists.
This new image makes spring awakening artistically even more beautiful. Outside of the theater, actors very rarely get the chance to re-shoot the exact same script, and it’s fascinating to see how different the choices they make are from those they’ve made before. Whether it’s what’s happening in the rehearsal room or a different expression on stage, the characters feel like both old friends and completely new, and it invites the audience to understand more about how how capable these performers are. The show takes on new life because the stars bring new energy and ideas that they didn’t have 15 years ago.
Another big part is societal. It is somewhat mind-boggling that the topic (including but not limited to abortion, physical and sexual abuse, and masturbation) is only a little less controversial in 2022 than it was in 2006. The same week as Spring Awakening: Those You’ve Known was created when the U.S. Supreme Court seemed poised to overturn Roe vs. Wade. Although society has come a long way since Frank Wedekind wrote the original text in 1890, if spring awakeningThe sex scene of was staged today, there would always be an argument about it – just another. Matrix Resurrections and spirit hunter Jonathan Groff, the lead, explains that director Michael Mayer was staging a sex scene with minors. The absurdity emerges from Groff’s tone and the viewer must reflect How would that work now, in a much more self-aware industry with different privacy coordinators and standards? And yet, as Tom Hulce argued at the time, it must be done; That’s what spring awakening is about.
Yet it goes back to the point that every documentary wants to make, which is that Spring Awakening: Those You’ve Known is more successful than any retrospective has or probably ever will be: it’s not just a great Broadway musical or a great work of art, it’s a landmark work in society. spring awakening didn’t return 15 years later because Groff and Lea Michele and half the cast are now famous. He came back because it was a movement and society needed to be moved again. Spring Awakening: Those You’ve Known allows viewers to essentially repeat the journey, leading to a deeper and deeper understanding of the musical than ever before.
Spring Awakening: Those You’ve Known is streaming now on HBO Max.
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