Spring Awakening: Those You’ve Known

Jonathan Groff, Lea Michele in Spring Awakening: Those You've Known

Spring Awakening: Those You’ve Known is an HBO Max documentary about a single performance of the Tony winning Broadway musical Spring Awakening. The original cast came together after 15 years with a week of rehearsal to stage the play one more time.

Spring Awakening: Those You’ve Known mixes in current material with film from the original production. There are interviews with the cast and others involved.

When Spring Awakening was first produced, the members of the cast were mostly children in their teens. It’s a story about puberty, about coming of age, about sexuality. It touches topics like sex, suicide, abortion, sexual abuse of children, homosexuality, and every kind of teen angst.

Now, 15 years later, those children are grown up. Hearing their perspective on how working with that material for so long affected them is the most interesting part of the documentary. It was touching and fascinating and enlightening.

A few of those in the film are Jonathan Groff, Lea Michele, John Gallagher Jr., Lauren Pritchard, Lilli Cooper, Skylar Astin, Jennifer Damiano, and Christine Estabrook.

Jonathan Groff and Lea Michele on the poster for Spring Awakening: Those You've Known

In the first rehearsal Lea Michele sat hunched in a metal folding chair with the rest of the cast around her and sang “Mama Who Bore Me” with power and perfection. She blew everyone away. But as the rehearsal went on, you realize every one of these performers had the play seared in their brains. They remembered all the songs, all the dialog, all the blocking, all the gestures. They were all going to blow you away.

Many touching things happened in the film. It really got me when Lauren Pritchard and Lilli Cooper, who sang about child molestation, talked about all the letters they received from girls who had been molested. All I could think was about all the MEN who thought it was okay to do this. All those men who think hurting girls is their right and privilege. So many broken girls. So many men who suffered nothing. That’s one of many reasons why theater/art like Spring Awakening is important.

I recommend this documentary 100%.

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