Broadway and "Glee" Star Jonathan Groff Chats About Normal Heart Film, HBO Series and More

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20 Jul 2013

Jonathan Groff
Photo by Mark A. Lee of Great Exposures

Prior to the airing of his various HBO projects, the multitalented artist will have the chance to demonstrate the vocal prowess he has impressed both Broadway and TV audiences with when he makes his debut at the Ravinia Festival's intimate Bennett Gordon Hall Dec. 7. The Pennsylvania native said that concert and cabaret work is a relatively new venture for him, one that began with an offer to perform at The Cabaret at the Columbia Club in Indianapolis in fall 2012.

"It was incredible," Groff said of his Indianapolis debut. "It was so fun. I fell in love with the medium. I did a concert at Joe's Pub with pop songs a year before that, but I hadn't done a 'cabaret,' and so that was the first time I'd done that in that kind of venue, and I loved it. I loved the interaction with the audience, I loved the intimacy, and [musical director] Mary-Mitchell [Campbell] and I learned a lot, and there's some songs that we want to do again, and there's a bunch of songs that we never want to do again," he laughed. "We put together a great band and were like, 'Wow. This is something we really should do more of,' but then I got busy with work, and she got busy with work… and then [Ravinia Festival President and CEO] Welz Kauffman contacted me and said, 'Hey, let's put something together.' I love Ravinia. I think that they're amazing. I love the work that they do, so I'm going to do a concert for them in their smaller venue in December, and I'm really excited."

Although Groff is still working on his repertoire for the one-night-only concert, he said one song that will definitely be on the bill is the classic Irving Berlin ballad "I Got Lost in His Arms" from the musical comedy Annie Get Your Gun.  The singing actor credits that 1946 musical, which he saw as an elementary school student at his hometown high school, with igniting his passion for the theatre. "At the end of Act I, I couldn't believe that I got to come back in 15 minutes and see a second act because I was like, 'Oh my God, this is so great!'" he said with a laugh. "So I was telling that story to Mary-Mitchell, and I said, 'I love that score. That score is so amazing, but it's mostly [Annie Oakley's] songs, which is such a bummer. I'd love to sing something from that show, but I'm not going to sing "You Can't Get a Man With a Gun."' And, she said, 'What about, "I Got Lost in His Arms"?' I was like, 'Right!'

"And, we started singing the song, and I immediately burst into tears, and suddenly that song hit me, obviously, in a different way at 28 than it did when I was seven. It suddenly gave me a whole new perspective singing it with where I am in my life now… I just think that song is so beautiful and incredibly meaningful — to have a man at 28 sing it with a different perspective. Hopefully, we'll discover more stuff like that…some pop tunes and some show tunes that we can turn on their head a little bit and make it surprising and interesting for us as well for the crowd."

*Tickets for the Ravinia concert are not yet on sale.

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