Their song of purple summer! After the Broadway debut of Spring Awakening, stars Lea Michele, Jonathan Groff and Skylar Estin became famous and created an original musical that inspired an entire generation.
“From the very first day of working on Spring Awakening — back in 1999 — I knew it was something special,” a member of The Scream Queens told Playbill magazine in July 2015. It has been banned for many years, and the combination of it with the amazing music of Duncan Sheik and the amazing direction of Michael was special. Every little detail just fell into place… everything just flowed.”
The coming-of-age rock musical was originally inspired by Frank Wedekind’s 1981 play of the same name. Almost a decade later, Duncan Shake and Steven Sater came together to write music, a book and lyrics. The show, which takes place in 19th century Germany, tells about a group of teenagers who discover their sexuality. Michelle and Groff, who became close friends while performing on Broadway, played the main roles of Wendla Bergmann and Melchior Gabor, respectively.
In the end, “Spring Awakening” was revived in 2015 by the Theater of the Deaf of the West and directed by Michael Arden, selecting hearing and deaf actors for the main roles and integrating American Sign Language (ASL) into the choreography.
“I think the show tells a slightly different story, which is what makes it so special,” revival actor Alex Wise told BroadwayWorld about the reimagined production. “We use the same text, but it’s different. It’s hard to articulate this difference, it just seems new. At the center of our production is the lack of communication… this concept existed in the original, but I don’t feel it was as bold as in the current one. This is something that, unfortunately, deaf people struggle with quite a lot in the hearing world. With that in mind, we were able to create a completely new show.”
Almost 15 years after “Spring Awakening” first debuted on the Great White Way in December 2006, the original line-up reunited for a special concert. “Spring Awakening: The Ones You Knew” was filmed for an HBO documentary, which will premiere in May 2022.
“Lauren Pritchard, who played Ilse in Spring Awakening, called me [in] January 2021 and said, ‘We need to have a reunion concert. 15 years have passed, and our industry has been standing for one and a half to two years [because of the coronavirus pandemic]. Let’s raise money for the Actors’ Fund,” Groff recalled during an April 2022 appearance on The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon. He also noted that the organization has provided more than $24 million in assistance to industry professionals who lost their jobs during the Broadway closure.
The entire original cast and band “got together and presented the show” in November 2021, which the voice actor of “Cold Heart” called “crazy.”
“It was so emotional and meant so much to all of us, as well as to the public,” Groff shared with Jimmy Fallon. “And we invited Radical Media and created this documentary… it’s about the reunion, but also about the legacy of Spring Awakening and how it changed our whole lives, and how theater can change people’s lives.”
Scroll down to see what the original cast of “Spring Awakening” have been doing since their time on Broadway:
The graduate of the Mind Hunter played the main role of Melchior in the original production, and then received roles in the films “One Life to Live”, “Boss”, “Cold Heart”, “Normal Heart”, “Bows”, “Look” and “The Matrix of Resurrections”. He returned to Broadway in 2015 in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s production of Hamilton: The American Musical, playing King George. The Pennsylvania native had short roles in the 2022 films “And Just Like That” and “Life and Beth.”
Groff, who went public in 2009, was previously linked to actors Gavin Creel and Zachary Quinto before moving on to New Zealand choreographer Corey Baker.
The New Jersey native, who played Wendla in “Spring Awakening,” began her career on Broadway before landing the role of Rachel Berry in the FOX series “Glee.” After six seasons of the series, she starred in the films “New Year’s Eve”, “Scream Queens”, “The Mayor” and “At the Same Time, Next Christmas”. As a performer, Michelle has released four original albums, including a mix of lullabies dedicated to her son.
Michelle dated her Glee co-star Cory Monteith until his death in July 2013. She eventually moved on to Zandy Reich, tying the knot in March 2019. In August 2020, their first child, son Ever, was born.
John Gallagher Jr.
The Delaware native played Moritz in a Broadway production. Among his acting works: “The Heart Machine”, “Olive Kitteridge”, “News”, “10 Cloverfield Lane”, “Hush”, “The Wrong Education Cameron Post”, “Peppermint”, “American Woman”, “Modern Love” and “Wild West World”.