Rise is a heartening new drama about finding inspiration in unexpected places. When dedicated teacher and family man Lou Mazzuchelli sheds his own self-doubt and takes over the school's lackluster theater department, he galvanizes not only the faculty and students, but the entire working-class town. Inspired by a true story.
Lou Mazzuchelli, an uninspired English teacher at Stanton High, petitions to take over as director of the school's theater program in an attempt to revitalize his passion for teaching, but quickly realizes he has his work cut out for him. His controversial decision to change the musical to the more provocative Spring Awakening and his atypical casting choices create a ripple effect for the program's assistant director Tracey Wolfe, the school's football coach Sam Strickland, and the students in the show.
Lou is brought down to earth when his production budget is slashed, Coach Strickland vindictively monopolizes Robbie's time, and he has a conflict with Tracey. Lilette finds herself starting to fall for Robbie, while Simon contends with conflicting feelings about his role in the show. As Michael finds support within the theater troupe, Gwen acts out in rehearsals in response to tensions at home.
Simon's bombshell news has Lou wondering whether choosing "Spring Awakening" is worth the cost; Lilette discovers another side to Robbie; Gail gets to know Maashous; Coach Strickland attempts to rehabilitate Gordy while struggling with his own isolation.
Robbie's two worlds collide at a house party, where tensions threaten to bubble over as his football teammates face off with the drama troupe. Meanwhile, Tracey reluctantly explores a new relationship with a not-so-secret admirer and a Mazzuchelli family road trip to visit Gail's sister goes sideways when Gordy sneaks off back to Stanton.
After their unresolved confrontation with Gordy, Lou and Gail try desperately to get through to him. Lou discovers a crucial element to the show needs a major overhaul, while Tracey resists a blossoming romance. As Gwen reels in the aftermath of a shocking announcement from her parents, Simon finds an unlikely ally. Robbie and Lilette grow closer just as outside forces conspire to put them at odds, and Vanessa takes a stand.