First Look at NBC's 'Rise,' Your New TV Musical Obsession (Exclusive)
By Philiana Ng
Get ready for your newest TV obsession.
NBC is gearing up for the launch of Rise, a 10-episode musical series from Friday Night Lights and Parenthood's Jason Katims, and only ET has the exclusive behind-the-scenes first look at the upcoming drama series.
The series follows teacher Lou Mazzuchelli (Josh Radnor) as he takes over the high school's lackluster theater department by putting on a local production of Spring Awakening, galvanizing not only the faculty and students, but the entire working-class town.
"Rise is about these individuals who come from very different walks of life and come together through theater for something that's bigger than themselves," star Auli'i Cravalho, who plays Lillette Suarez, says in the video, citing Lou as being the inspiration for the characters to come out of their shell. "He helps them to become the people they hope to be."
"They're figuring out who they are and their own identities through this experience that they're having together," says co-star Ted Sutherland, who plays Simon Saunders, of the students' journeys.
As Katims explains, Rise "feels like you've been dropped down into this town and you know these people." "It's not just a show that takes place in the theater. We go home with them, we see what they're dealing with and I think that will make it more poignant to see them thrive," he adds. "I love doing stories that make you care about characters and that's what I hope to do in doing this story."
Rosie Perez, who plays high school drama teacher Tracey Wolfe, notes that the show also covers difficult topics through the lens of the students, parents and small-town community, from alcoholism and gender identity to race and bigotry. "A child shouldn't have to endure that, but in the real world, that's the case," Perez says.
"These are all things that are not done in a heavy way. This is a hopeful show," Katims says. "This is a show for everybody, a show about community, friendship, family, and those are the things people come to watch TV for."
Joining Radnor, Cravalho, Perez and Sutherland in the ensemble cast are Damon Gillespie, Amy Forsyth, Casey Johnson, Rarmian Newton, Taylor Richardson, Shirley Rumierk and Joe Tippett.
Watch the exclusive featurette below.
Rise premieres Tuesday, March 13 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.