Lea Michele, Jonathan Groff and ‘Spring Awakening’ Team on Reuniting for Doc 15 Years Later

Lea Michele says the thought to reunite the unique Broadway Spring Awakening solid got here in a dream.

While speaking to The Hollywood Reporter on the New York premiere carpet for the brand new (*15*)HBO

documentary Spring Awakening: Those You’ve Known — which is an element efficiency, half reunion particular — the actress, who performed the main character Wendia, recalled one different time the group had thought-about it: “Maybe in the course of the 10-year anniversary” of the present from Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater, based mostly on the 1891 teen drama by Frank Wedekind.

But largely, she mentioned, the particular occasion got here collectively after a dialog between fellow solid member Laura Pritchard and Jonathan Groff. “Laura had a dream that we had been all reuniting — like, an precise dream when she was sleeping at evening — and she known as Jonathan and was like, ‘We must get again on the stage collectively once more,’” Michele recalled.

That efficiency could be a profit present for The Actor’s Fund in the course of the pandemic. Beyond navigating COVID protocols and a dwell viewers, the staff had solely days to rehearse, in line with star Jonathan Groff, who performed lead Melchior within the award-winning rock musical.

“You rehearse for two months for a Broadway musical, and we put Spring Awakening again up in, I don’t know, three days of rehearsal?” Lili Cooper, who originated Marta, defined. “I bear in mind [original Broadway director] Michael Mayer telling us, ‘Yeah, you’re gonna have books, however simply don’t take a look at them.’ And we had been like, ‘What do you imply? You anticipate us to know all this?’ Of course, we received to rehearsal, and it simply flowed out of us, prefer it was at all times in us for the final decade and a half.”

The movie staff and RadicalMedia — the worldwide media and communications firm behind filmed productions of musicals for Hamilton and Come From Away — had been additionally working inside fast-paced, high-pressure uncommon circumstances on their finish.

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From left: Producer Dave Sirulnick, producer Meredith Bennett and director Michael John Warren
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“Because this was a one-night-only efficiency, it was a special problem for us. We didn’t have these 4 or 5 days that we usually would have. We had one shot similar to they’d one shot,” mentioned Dave Sirulnick, the doc’s producer, who defined the staff often shoots a number of instances with and with out an viewers and is ready to seize sure angles and close-ups by means of this course of with out disrupting the dwell expertise for theatergoers. “So, I feel it was nearly everyone being very collaborative and actually being linked to what we had been doing.”

Despite all-cameras being on them, Groff and John Gallagher Jr. (who performed Moritz) each agreed that the filming of the efficiency didn’t really feel “intrusive.” A extra important problem, mentioned Gallagher Jr., was the straightforward act of reuniting the staff. “It’s arduous to get everyone in the identical place once more with this many individuals after this a few years. Everyone’s scattered and then has their life and their calling,” the actor advised THR. “So it might be sufficient simply to get again collectively for one evening solely, however then to have or not it’s captured for posterity the way in which it’s and to be shared with the world on the worldwide stage — it’s nearly overwhelming.”

While the doc captures the dwell profit efficiency of Spring Awakening, it additionally goes behind the scenes, bringing acquainted and new followers of the core firm an inside take a look at the making of the Broadway present from years in the past.

“I feel this one is particular as a result of, as you’ve seen, it’s not simply the efficiency, nevertheless it’s the story of those folks and what they put collectively,” Sirulnick mentioned. “The story of Spring Awakening is a exceptional story and an inspiring story, so we had been actually glad to have the ability to inform that story, whereas additionally bringing the performances entrance and middle.”

“We, in fact, cherished doing our present each evening, however the actual pleasure got here offstage and the time that we received to spend collectively. So I’m so glad that we’ve the footage from 2006 at Jonathan’s household’s farm collectively,” Michele added. “We didn’t present as a lot of the backstage antics of the reunion — though I feel we had been up collectively each evening till about 5 within the morning — however we’re a household each on stage and off, and I’m so grateful that this documentary reveals all of that.”

For Cooper, it reignited that giddiness — and, at one level, insecurity — of when she was youthful. “At least for me, it introduced me again into that insecure teenage world, the place I used to be like, ‘Oh, I hope everyone likes me. I hope we’re nonetheless pals,’” Cooper mentioned, laughing. “Someone had a very stunning thought — I overlook who it was —  however they mentioned it felt like we had been reintroducing ourselves to 1 one other. And when do you get to try this?”

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From left (high row): Skylar Astin, Jennifer Damiano, Gideon Glick, Robert Hager, Jonathan B. Wright, Lea Michele, Krysta Rodriguez, Remy Zaken, Lilli Cooper, Phoebe Strole and Lauren “Lolo” Pritchard; From left (backside row): Gerard Canonico, Brian Charles Johnson, Jonathan Groff and John Gallagher Jr.
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It’s additionally an opportunity for a brand new technology to see this authentic solid on this story and its (sadly) enduring messages for the primary time. “For me, what’s contained within the movie are such profound tales that I feel lots of people want to listen to. And so my dream for this movie is that it travels far and broad,” the doc’s director, Michael John Warren, mentioned. “There are lots of people who’ve been marginalized by society or one thing that’s occurred to them personally, and I like the truth that we made this movie that may go wherever, so individuals who won’t get to listen to the actually essential messages of this movie immediately get to listen to them.”

Yet, the doc itself didn’t simply function a well timed return to discussions about sexuality, gender, faith, abortion and authority, amongst different themes. Nor was it merely a visit down reminiscence lane for its solid or a method of reaching a wider viewers. Because they carried out pre-social media, the expertise has allowed the solid to revisit the present with one another — and with followers — in a manner they didn’t get to earlier than.

Spring Awakening was occurring earlier than the wave of social media, so the entire movies and performances that you’ve now didn’t exist,” Groff mentioned. “So to have the ability to come again and do the songs collectively and discuss concerning the present, and have it recorded is so profound for us as a result of we by no means received that video report, both from the present being recorded and even from similar to the report that we’re now so used to with social media.”

Another new a part of the expertise was seeing the grown solid inhabit their roles. “The greatest distinction for me was that I used to be a 16-year-old. I used to be a really completely different human again in 2006. I’ve grown rather a lot into who I’m. I’m a mother now,” Cooper mentioned. “I feel the reunion live performance itself felt so profound as a result of we had been it by means of a special lens, and that allowed us to inform the story in such a robust manner.”

“I really feel like coming into this position as an grownup, we had a lot extra readability about what we had been really saying — what it meant,” Michele added. “Coming again as an grownup — not solely having a greater understanding for what we had been saying, having had life experiences — was with much more confidence. It was actually about having enjoyable with our pals and telling the story. It wasn’t a lot the stress of doing an excellent job each single evening. That actually made our shoulders calm down, and we gave a very trustworthy and grounded efficiency.”

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Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater
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Spring Awakening: Those You’ve Known premieres Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.

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