HBO Max doc is a fan of the play with Jonathan Groff and Lea Michelle.
“Spring Awakening: Those You’ve Known” is the HBO Max documentary about how the 2006 original “Spring Awakening” Broadway actors decide to put on a reunion show to honor the Actor’s Fund, after the virus broke out. It was the show that gave Jonathan Groff (“Hamilton,” “Frozen”) , Lea Michelle (“Glee”) and John Gallagher, Jr. (“Short Term 12,” “10 Cloverfield Lane”) names in the entertainment world. We should owe this play credit for that.
I haven’t seen or heard of the show, but this doc allows fans to acknowledge the show’s messages and inspirations. It’s about how it changed its cast and crew’s lives, how it improved their courage and personalities, and how they want fans to be themselves.
Adapting Frank Wedekind’s 1891 play and among the collaborators, Steven Sater wrote the lyrics, Duncan Sheik composed the music, and Tom Hulce helped produce it. The story is set in 19th Century Germany with young people exploring their sexual interests, while singing with contemporary rock music.
Groff and Michele were both able to have chemistry on and off the show, while figuring out their own interests. Groff is a gay actor from an Amish community, and he was supposed to have sex with his co-star. He didn’t come out of the closet until after he left the show, as he was afraid of what his collaborators would think.
Speaking of sex, at the Atlantic Theater, Hulce felt that sex was the basis of “Spring Awakening” with others saying: “You can’t have sex on stage.” This was a pretty explicit show.
Gallagher Jr. was able to relate to his character, because of how he suffered from anxiety and depression and had trouble in school as a teen. In fact, every night was basically like a suicide attempt for him. But the show was supposed to bring out positive messages, and he was given fan letters from teens who never gave up because of his performance.
“Spring Awakening: Those You’ve Known” is a short film (running at 83 minutes), so it doesn’t grab every detail about the show, but it does grab some of its most important facts about the staging and cast members. It talks about how it took stage work to new heights, how the cast members were inspired to express themselves and keep on living, and how its fans were impacted by its experience.
And even if I’ve never seen or heard about “Spring Awakening” (sorry about that), we should at least thank it for helping Groff, Michelle, Gallagher, Jr, and everyone else get more recognition for their later films and shows. We have to appreciate the little things in life, and that’s how they become big.
Premieres on HBO at 9PM ET Tonight