'Rise' Is Exactly The Show America Needs To Realize The Importance Of Arts Education
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'Rise' Is Exactly The Show America Needs To Realize The Importance Of Arts Education

Auli'i Cravalho and Josh Radnor show they are much more than Moana and Ted Mosby.

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'Rise' Is Exactly The Show America Needs To Realize The Importance Of Arts Education
NBC Universal

NBC has delivered us great shows in the past few years. It has given us "Saturday Night Live," "The Voice" and "This Is Us."

After watching NBC's "Rise," it is clear that the network won't back down on quality television.

May I remind you the show comes from the same producers as the Broadway smash "Hamilton."

"Rise" is a musical drama based on the book "Drama High: The Incredible True Story of a Brilliant Teacher, a Struggling Town, and the Magic of Theater." The show takes place in Stanton, Pennsylvania, a working-class steel mill town.

The failing town, like any other, thrives on its high school football team. This leaves Stanton Drama to pull it's few resources together each production.

Stanton Drama's previous shows were good, but not great. In the midst of needing a director of the drama program, Tracey Wolfe, the assistant director of Stanton Drama, plans "Grease" as their next production.

Josh Radnor, known best as Ted Mosby from "How I Met Your Mother," plays English teacher Lou Mazzuchelli.

If "Rise" is a mixture of "Glee" and "Friday Night Lights," Mr. Mazzuchelli is a mixture of Will Schuester from "Glee" and John Keating from "Dead Poet's Society," with the slight cool factor of Mr. Anderson from "The Perks of Being a Wallflower."

Inspired to shake things up in the drama program, he becomes director of Stanton Drama, with Ms. Wolfe as his assistant director. Ms. Wolfe's type A personality and Mr. Mazzuchelli's type B personality create rifts in Stanton Drama.

Lou Mazzuchelli aspires to dream big and for the students in Stanton Drama to do the same, despite their $0 budget. Instead of the overdone and low-budget "Grease" production, he chooses the scandalous and expensive "Spring Awakening."

The musical is by no means PG since it discovers the struggles of teenage sexuality.

Lou completely changes the usual casting of Stanton Drama. Gwen Strickland, daughter of the football coach, and Simon Saunders, son of strict evangelical Christians, are the usual leads.

Gwen is cast as Ilse and Simon is cast as Hänschen. Both are upset by the roles at first because Gwen doesn't want to be anything but a lead, and Hanschen, who is gay, has a kissing scene with another male role which upsets Simon's parents.

However, the inspirational drama teacher in Lou gets them to be inspired by their anguish.

Lou casts football star Robbie Thorne and Lilllette Suarez, who has issues with her single mom, as Melchior and Wendla. Robbie struggles to remember his lines, yet he must star in "Spring Awakening" in order to avoid failing Lou's English class.

However, he becomes passionate about his role when his sick mother urges him to follow his heart. Auli'i Cravalho, known best as headstrong Moana, plays Lillette.

What is most inspiring is Ms. Wolfe's speech in episode two. At a budget meeting, the football team asks $117,000 for a JumboTron as Stanton Drama barely scrapes by on their measly budget.

Ms. Wolfe pleads $14,000 for Stanton Drama, but her speech gives them a $750 donation. The speech shows how much of an emphasis schools put on sports at the expense of the arts.

This show is such a beautiful representation of middle-class struggles and aspirations. It is exactly what schools need to revive the dying art programs.

It is so good, you forget who Ted Mosby and Moana are.

Both Josh Radnor and Auli'i Cravalho kill it in their respective roles, and Auli'i's beautiful voice is an added plus.

If you don't watch it for Josh Radnor or Auli'i Cravalho, watch it for Shannon Purser a.k.a. Barb Holland, who also stars in the series.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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