New drama series permieres 10 p.m. Tuesday after the finale of "This Is Us," before moving to 9 p.m. beginning March 20.

Amy Forsyth know how to find her spotlight.

Even at the age of 15, she gave ‘em the ol’ razzle dazzle as murderess Roxie Hart in a high school production of “Chicago.” But storming the stage and acting for a camera on it are two different beasts the 22 year old learned to juggle on the set of NBC’s new musical drama “Rise.”

“You're on the schedule of a television show, which is really quick and there are so many hands involved,” she said. “Theater is about preparing and taking time to go over everything, and rehearsing for weeks. On TV, you show up, maybe get to rehearse it a few times and then you film it. It was a little bit challenging. I had to find that middle ground.”

The show, premiering 10 p.m. Tuesday, chronicles the resurgence of a beleaguered high school theater program and lives with the students and teachers as they mount a production of the controversial musical “Spring Awakening.”

Forsyth plays Gwen, the daughter of the football coach who could care less about the gridiron and puts all of her energy into excelling on the stage. She’s the go-to leading lady, but get knocked down the cast list when new director, Lou (Josh Radnor), bucks tradition and casts a shy ingenue (Auli'i Cravalho) in the lead.

As she processes the new roadblock in the path to stardom, Gwen is established as a confident, intense young woman with whom Forsyth found herself identifying.

“Gwen and I might be more similar than I care to admit,” she said. “The way I saw her when I read the script... was driven and passionate, and she knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to do what she needs in order to get it. I think sometimes she forgets she’s in high school because she’s ready to take on the real world.”

Despite getting bumped for a fresher talent, Gwen doesn’t let her voice get silenced. The second episode of the series, airing 9 p.m. March 20, concludes with a powerhouse performance from Forsyth, standing emotionally bare and alone on stage as Lou looks on.

“I was terrified,” she said. “But when I got there, everything went out the window. She is a very stoic young woman and there is so much underneath that. But in that moment, I think Lou gives Gwen permission to release it and it shocks even her.”

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The series around Gwen and her classmates has been frequently referred to as a mix of “Friday Night Lights” and “Glee” -- a comparison that Forsyth said is flattering but may shortchange the show's individuality.

“That is the easiest comparison because that is all we know,” she said. “It has the authenticity and intensity of ‘Friday Night Lights’ and the heartwarming moments and amazing musical numbers that ‘Glee’ does. But I think ‘Rise’ is its own monster."

Reinforcing that belief is the spine of the show, which is a commitment to discussing the importance of arts education in schools.

“There is a grit and truth to ‘Rise’ that I think the world is waiting for,” she said.

The 10-episode first season sticks to the creation of the group’s performance of “Spring Awakening,” but that hasn’t stopped the cast from dreaming up what musical they would like to stage should the show return for season two.

“It is fun to think about musicals that have a giant ensemble cast because there are 15 of us in the troupe,” she said. “So something like ‘Into the Woods’ or ‘Spelling Bee’ that showcases so many voices.”

It’s that group mentality that Forsyth said has served the cast well as they worked together and formed their own off-screen theater troupe. It’s a callback to an early speech given by Radnor about the importance of a sacred troupe -- a moment the cast took to heart.

“What is so incredible about this show is what Lou says about being a sacred troupe, it is in the pilot and that was how we established our relationship with each other,” she said. “And it’s 100-percent true.”

Reporter Hunter Ingram can be reached at 910-343-2327 or