Jonathan Groff, a two-time Tony nominee for his performances in Spring Awakening and Hamilton, will be seen in the new Netflix series Mindhunter, which debuts in October and casts the Glee star as an FBI agent in the 1970s. Here, the acclaimed singing actor recalls the Broadway performances that most affected him as part of the audience.
In the greatest real life star-is-born moment that I’ve ever witnessed, this understudy that was pushed downstage center blew my mind. The heat that was coming off her was palpable. I saw her do it six times. When she sang “Gimme Gimme,” I had so many chills my body went numb.
It was the first time that I saw a play, and I was crying and I didn't know why—like being moved by a piece of modern art. I was like... what?! Had to buy a Samuel Beckett biography afterwards to try and comprehend what had just happened to me.
The entire cast of Spring Awakening
We sat on the stage every single performance and watched each other. Watching Lea [Michele] get on that chair every night and open her mouth to start the show is burned into my memory forever. Watching my castmates bust themselves open emotionally, or start uncontrollably laughing, or try to ignore the drunk people or scary people that were sitting onstage with us, or watch an understudy go on and nail it, or look at each other and weep....I mean...we were doing it all up there. It was the start of all of our careers, and I have never and will never experience anything like it.
The entire cast of Hamilton
I felt as much of a fan of the show—and I was a part of it—since I joined the group right after the Off-Broadway opening. On Broadway, I would sneak in the box (shhh...) in my full King George outfit and wig and watch the show. This cast brought it every show. No matter what extra noise was happening or how hyped the experience was, the stage was sacred. Special shout out to Renée [Elise Goldsberry]'s walk during “The Schuyler Sisters” that I was particularly obsessed with....
He somehow managed to connect with every single person in the theatre. Men, women, children...we were all in the palm of his hand. Full-on dancing, singing, acting genius. And those white pants.
I wore out the CD and counted down the days that my mom and my brother and I were going to see the show. When Nathan Lane got rolled out center stage and pulled that newspaper from in front of his face, I about lost my mind.
The cast of Violet
This show really got me. I saw it three times. Sutton stripped down and raw. And Josh Henry. I couldn’t stop crying.
The cast of Fun Home
It felt to me as much of an American classic as The Glass Menagerie. And each acting performance was so perfectly calibrated and complementary of one another. I forgot I was watching a show.
Frances McDormand in Good People
Possibly my favorite stage performance of all time (next to Cate Blanchett in Streetcar, but that was at BAM and not on Broadway, but see how I snuck her in anyways?). My jaw was on the ground. I loved her and hated her at the same time, and had no idea what she was going to do from moment to moment....did she...?!
The cast of The Light in the Piazza
Saw it three times. It will haunt me forever, maybe my favorite musical I’ve ever seen.