Jonathan Groff has been at the cutting edge of theatre since his career took off with Broadway’s Spring Awakening back in 2007. Leading the daring musical by Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik (the pop songwriter’s Broadway musical debut) as Melchior, Groff bared his soul onstage as a teenager trying to understand his own sexuality.
Soon after, he appeared as Jesse St. James on the second season of Glee—opposite his Spring Awakening co-star Lea Michele. Glee was the first in a regeneration of musicals on television. There had been no live television musical events, no scripted series about music like the Empires or Nashvilles of today. Then, Groff made his Broadway return in a little hit called Hamilton, creating a King George whose walk inspired Beyoncé. Offstage, Groff led the groundbreaking HBO series Looking and filmed the feature film based on the series.
Now, Groff will lend his acting chops and his voice to the first mainstream musical podcast by Two-Up Productions: 36 Questions. Based on the social experiment of the ’90s (revived in the zeitgeist by a 2015 New York Times article) in which two people try to form a deep interpersonal connection using a specific list of questions, the musical follows Judith (Jessie Shelton) and Jase (Jonathan Groff) whose “marriage is on the rocks” as they use the 36 questions to rebuild their relationship.
Co-written and co-directed by Ellen Winter and Chris Littler, 36 Questions harkens back to the radio shows of yesteryear, but with a clear contemporary vision and subject matter. The musical will unfold in three acts: Two-Up released Act 1 of the musical July 10.
“I think that you can do anything in a podcast format,” says Littler. Still, writing a podcast musical isn’t the same as writing for the stage. “We didn’t want to write something you wanted to see,” says Winter.
What most excites her about these uncharted waters is the accessibility to audiences and the opportunity to expose listeners anywhere. “The podcast realm allows anyone in the country to be at a musical.”
“The actual musical,” Littler interjects, “not just the album.”
36 Questions is now available on iTunes. Click here to subscribe.