Tonight is the premiere of Rise on NBC. The show, which has been likened to Glee, follows a working-class high school drama department that comes to life under the advisement of a new drama teacher.
The show is inspired by the nonfiction book Drama High, written by Michael Sokolove.
Here are cast spoilers for tonight’s premiere:
Auli’i Cravalho as Lilette Suarez
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Cravalho describes her character as “an underdog that comes to light in face of bullies who try to take her down…”
Moana’s Auli’i Cravalho adds that Lilette struggles to dissociate from what’s going on at home. Cravalho says, “She does have a very interesting relationship with her mother, figuring out who the adult is in the relationship. Both of them work hard to support each other. Both of them love each other endlessly. But really, when will it become too much?”
Cravalho, 17, made her acting debut as Moana in the 2016 film. At the time she was cast, Cravalho was living in Mililani, Hawaii. At last year’s Teen Choice Awards, she took home the Choice Movie: Breakout Star Award for her role in Moana. She was also awarded Outstanding Achievement in Voice Acting in an Animated Production at the Annie Awards.
Damon J. Gillepsie as Robbie Thorne
Damon Gillepsie plays Robbie Thorne, a football player who’s recruited to star in his high school’s production of Spring Awakening.
Gillepsie is originally from Chattanooga, Tennessee. He plays six instruments and studied at the Roosevelt University Chicago College of Performing Arts. After moving to New York, Gillepsie was cast as Buttons in the Disney Broadway Musical, Newsies. He’s also performed in Aladdin.
Gillepsie and Cravalho share a lot of screentime this season. Speaking to the Hollywood Reporter recently, Gillepsie said, “Now that we’ve done more of the show, we’ve gotten to have a lot more encounters just she and I, so we have more time to talk, and we have more time to really form a really close friendship… Now that the show is moving along and we’re kind of staying with it, it’s really blossoming into a really pleasant friendship, I would say.”
Josh Radnor as Lou Mazzuchelli
Rise follows passionate teacher Lou Mazzuchelli who comes in to run the theater department at a small town in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
Radnor was born in Columbus, Ohio, and attended Kenyon College, where he studied theater. He went on to train at the National Theater Institute at the Eugene ONeill Theater in CT. Radnor received his MFA from NYUs Tisch School of the Arts in 1999.
Radnor is best known for his role as Ted Mosby in How I Met Your Mother, as well as Dr. Jedediah Foster in Mercy Street.
Rosie Perez as Tracey Wolfe
Veteran Rosie Perez plays, in the words of Deadline, “a no-holds-barred mouth current Drama School teacher and a former high school theater person who is finding someone else with passion and vision can still inspire her.”
Veteran actor Rosie Perez is known for her breakthrough film Do the Right Thing, followed by her role in White Men Can’t Jump.
Shirley Rumierk as Vanessa Suarez
Shirley Rumierk will play Cravalho’s mother on the show. In the words of Deadline, “Rumierk is…a hard working, no nonsense complex single mother and waitress who wants the best for her daughter Lilette (Cravalho) even though at times her own behavior doesn’t live up to the standards she wishes she had for herself.”
Rumierk has appeared in a number of TV Series, including Life on Mars, Lipstick Jungle, Conviction, Law & Order, Ugly Betty, The Good Wife, White Collar and Blue Bloods.
Ted Sutherland as Simon Saunders
Actor Ted Sutherland has appeared on shows like Eye Candy, Law & Order: SVU, Madame Secretary, and The Deuce.
His character, Simon Saunders, has always been chosen as the lead in high school plays. This time around, however, Lou has cast him as Hänschen in Spring Awakening, which requires him to kiss another boy. Simon goes to his new drama professor saying he’s not sure his conservative parents would approve. And, in the end, he’s right. His parents don’t approve of the show, and ask him to step away from it.