Jonathan Groff on Coming Out, "Looking," "The Normal Heart," Larry Kramer, Lea Michele and More

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26 Jun 2014

Groff in Spring Awakening.
Photo by Joan Marcus

What was it like reading Lea Michele's book? I loved it!
JG: Oh my God, it was great! I was so proud of her. I'm so proud of her — she's a New York Times best-selling author! She never stops. She never ceases to amaze me. She never stops going. She's a total workhorse. I'm so inspired by her. We did a Q&A at Barnes & Noble, where I interviewed her for publicity for the book, and there was a line through the entire store to wait to see her and get her to sign her books. It was such a great moment to have been in New York with her doing [Spring Awakening] and to now be back in New York with her, and she's got this whole thing going on. It's amazing.

What kind of dream roles do you have? Would you want to see a Jon Groff/Lea Michele reunion on stage? What can we get you back to Broadway with?
JG: Yes, I'm dying to do something with her again. That would be a blast. I've never been a dream role person. My whole life, I've never had the list of things to [check] off, but I can say that I am dying to get back on stage. I really am. I've seen almost every show from this season. Every time I come back to New York — and I'm here for the summer — I see everything. Theatre is my true, great obsession. I'm a fan first before I'm an actor in the theatre. I see everything. I love it, and doing these… I did this Rodgers & Hammerstein [concert, Getting to Know You] at the 92nd Street Y in April with Ted Chapin and the [gala] for the Public last night… I'm really hoping that I get to come back sometime soon. I love it.

What did you enjoy most about this season?
JG: That's a good question. I have to say, I had never seen A Raisin in the Sun before — oh my God — and I was just so knocked out by that play. I mean, it was a revelation for me only because I also never had seen the play or read the play before… I feel like, usually, in a great play, there's a line or a scene that sort of changes you — you leave slightly changed from the line or the scene or the moment or the performance — and the entire play of Raisin in the Sun is scene after scene of moments and life-altering exchanges between characters… I am blown away by it. I just can't believe that Lorraine Hansberry wrote that when she was 28. I'm just astounded. It made me want to have kids, that play. [Walter Lee Younger is] forced to be the better man for the generation that's behind him — it's so moving to me. It's so incredibly moving, and it's that way with "The Normal Heart," too. As a gay man of a younger generation, I'm reminded of how they were igniting — and certainly it was life and death for them… They paved the way for us in such an important, very deep, very meaningful way. Hopefully one of the goals for "The Normal Heart" is for my generation — our generation — to be watching and say, "Now what do we do? How can we help the people behind us to make it even better for them than it is for us today?"

( staff writer Michael Gioia's work appears in the news, feature and video sections of as well as in the pages of Playbill magazine. Follow him on Twitter at @PlaybillMichael).

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