SPRING AWAKENING: THOSE YOU’VE KNOWN is a documentary reunion of the original Broadway cast and creative team. It has been 15 years since this ensemble has performed together in its entirety. The film was made to benefit The Actor’s Fund during the pandemic. 

The journey began with workshops creating a treasure trove of music that was meant to be shocking and truthful about the angst teenagers feel during their hormonal explosion. The musical was tough to perform and was not believed to make it from those early workshopping days to Off-Broadway at the Atlantic Theatre, but the show gained a steady fan base that led to being continually sold out. 

SPRING AWAKENING was finally given a home on Broadway at the Eugene O’Neil Theatre, but it could not fill those 1100+ seats until the Tony nominations were announced. 11 nominations! And the musical won 8 Tony’s including Best Musical. This changed everything. Now the group played to “standing room” audiences every performance. It was a phenomenon. Screaming fans aching for autographs. The composers, lyricists, and actors were shocked. It changed the trajectory of everyone’s career. 

The documentary was put together by the musical’s director, Michael John Warren and Jonathan Gallagher Jr. who played Moritz, a troubled teenager. SPRING AWAKENING covered topics that most would never dare to put on stage especially with a cast of 14-to 20-year-old actors. Stories and songs shared feelings about sexual abuse, unrequited love, school-yard violence, incest, abortion, bullying, and suicide. Night after night, the ensemble performed in a “dark place,” sharing their bodies and souls, until they couldn’t anymore. They were a strong unit, self-contained, and “there” for each other. Lea Michele and Jonathan Groff were among these powerful players. 

SPRING AWAKENING: THOSE YOU’VE KNOWN covers clips and interviews from 2006 to 2021. It is amazing to witness the stars then and now. It will pull at your heart once again to hear THE DARK I KNOW WELL, BITCH OF THE LIVING, (Blah, Blah, Blahs) and reconsider a “purple summer.”  For all the SA fans, this is must-see TV. Don’t be afraid to hold back any emotions while watching. The cast certainly did not. It is available to stream on HBO/MAX. 

Esta Rosevear

Esta Rosevear has been a Theatre Arts teacher and director for 35+ years, published Children’s author of the Rebecca series, and is passionate about playing her violin, walking, gardening, and reading murder mysteries.

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