Actors of NBC's new musical drama 'Rise' talk about the impact of the show

LOS ANGELES (WMTV) It’s a new musical drama that debuts on Tuesday night on NBC, and it’s good.

“Rise” is from the producers of “Parenthood” and “Hamilton”, and it’s based on true events at a high school in Pennsylvania.

WMTV’s Leigh mills interviewed four of the stars when she represented Gray Television in Los Angeles for NBC’s Winter Press Day in early January.

“You don’t even have to be a theater love, or a football lover. You don’t have to care about teenagers or high school. There’s so much humanity in this thing, and I feel like people will just get invested in the characters,” said Josh Radnor.

“Rise” centers on a drama department at a public high school in a working-class town.

The characters who are students, teachers and parents find inspiration in unexpected places while working to overcome adversity.

Leigh Mills asked, “It hits on a lot of really important issues related to high school kids, divorce, substance abuse and identity issues. Is there one part of this script and show that you most connect with?”

“It’s not clichéd. These kids are really going through stuff. You see what the parents are going through. It’s all real and treated with great delicacy and tenderness and seriousness,” answered Radnor.
Rose Perez explained, “What I connected with is how much arts can change a person’s life, specifically a young person’s life.”

Perez added, “Watching how art changed these young actors while we’re shooting, I just saw them grow and develop as young people as well so that was very inspiring to me.”

The two young stars of the show are cast in the school’s spring musical and develop a friendship outside of the drama department.

“She’s figuring out who she is, what she likes to do, and exploring new relationships event with Robbie Thorne and so it’s really beautiful to see these young characters grow up and to grow along with them,” said Auli’I Cravalho.

Damon Gillespie explained, “I grew up doing theater, but I also played football. So that constant tug of war between football and the theater, I can 100% relate to because that’s what I went through.”

Mills asked, “Do you guys stay an item through the whole first season?”
Cravlaho and Gillespie both answered shyly, “ Hah! Yea!”

“What I love about “Rise” is that all of the adults, they rise. No pun intended, and they fall. I think a lot of grown folks are going to watch this and say, wow, that’s me, that’s me,” said Perez.

Radnor added, “Musicals have really been quite important in my life. It’s really why I started acting so to have it come full circle and play this role and be able to hand that back to these kids is pretty amazing.”

Theater is so important to all of the actors Mills interviewed.

Radnor started acting in the public high school drama department.
Auli’I, who was the voice of Moana, was in theater, but she never got a part on stage. She says now she gets to have the last laugh.

The series premiere of “Rise” is at a special time, Tuesday at 9:00 p.m. on NBC.