This article was updated December 10, 2019 from a previous version.
The revolutionary musical Spring Awakening, a musical adaptation of Frank Wedekind’s play of the same name, introduced theatergoers to the teenage angst and sexual awakenings of adolescents in 19th-century Germany. Acclaimed for its rock score by Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater in addition to its stellar cast, the show was nominated for 11 Tony awards and won eight awards, including Best Original Score, Choreography, and the coveted title of Best Musical. Despite its profoundly positive reputation and contemporary appeal––NBC’s Rise used show as an outlet for Stanton High School’s drama club students—few realize just how many performing careers Spring Awakening launched. So where are these stars now?
Take a glimpse of what the original Broadway cast of Spring Awakening has done since their performance at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre:
Jonathan Groff, Melchior
After making his Broadway principal debut as Melchior in Spring Awakening (and a Tony nomination for his performance), Groff broke out into both the TV and film industries, snatching a recurring role in the hit show Glee, voicing the adorable Kristoff in the animated Disney movie Frozen (now a Tony-nominated musical), and even starring in HBO’s Looking and Netflix original series Mindhunter. Despite his success off the stage, theatre has always had a place in Groff’s heart. He originated the role of King George on Broadway in the smash hit Hamilton, earning another Tony nomination, and starred in the first podcast musical, 36 Questions. He now stars in the Off-Broadway revival of Little Shop of Horrors as Seymour at the West Side Theatre. Of course, Groff also reprised his role as the voice of Kristoff in the Disney animated Frozen 2—and this time he gets a song of his own!
Lea Michele, Wendla
By the time Michele originated the role of Wendla, she was no stranger to performing for hundreds on Broadway. Michele had already performed in Les Misérables, Ragtime, and Fiddler on the Roof before starring in Spring Awakening. After departing the musical in 2008, Michele appeared in several movies and TV shows, including a star role on Glee, Scream Queens, and The Mayor. Michele has expanded her reach into the mainstream music industry, releasing two of her own albums, Places and Louder. Michele toured with Glee co-star Darren Criss on their “LM/DC Tour.” She married Zandy Reich in March 2019. This holiday season, she stars in the made-for-TV movie Same Time, Next Christmas on ABC.
John Gallagher Jr., Moritz
Playing Melchior’s best friend Moritz, Gallagher was nominated for a Drama Desk and won a Tony for Best Actor in a Featured Role for his awe-inspiring performance as Moritz. Continuing his Broadway career, Gallagher performed in American Idiot, Jerusalem, and Long Day’s Journey into Night, originating roles in each production. Gallagher also performed in many Off-Broadway productions at the Atlantic Theatre Company, where Spring Awakening premiered. He has also appeared on television in several shows such as Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, The Newsroom, and the HBO show High Maintenance. He was featured in the action movie Peppermint starring Jennifer Garner as well as The Best of Enemies and Underwater. The actor can be seen in an episode of Amazon’s new anthology series Modern Love. Gallagher and Tony nominee Stark Sands will reunite with American Idiot director Michael Mayer in the new Avett Brothers musical Swept Away, which will debut at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre June 14, 2020.
Lauren Pritchard, Ilse
After making her Broadway debut in Spring Awakening, Pritchard kickstarted her music career with several alternative rock/funk songs, perhaps an homage to the style of the show that brought her to the spotlight. Known professionally as Lolo, Pritchard has been featured in songs by Panic! at the Disco as well as Fall Out Boy and has released two albums in addition to her many singles. Pritchard also served as the composer-lyricist for the musical Songbird, an adaptation of Chekhov’s The Seagull set in Nashville. She made her feature film debut in (Romance) In the Digital Age, and she sang the title track. In 2019, she became a member of Off-Broadway’s Animus Theatre Company.
Jonathan B. Wright, Hänschen
Wright is widely known as a scene-stealing performer from his portrayal of Hänschen, the seductive choir boy. After his Broadway debut in Spring Awakening, Wright was cast in his first feature film Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist as Lethario. Just a year later he was cast alongside Michael Cera in Youth in Revolt. In 2015, Wright appeared in Center Theatre Group's production of Martin Sherman's Bent, directed by Moises Kaufman in Los Angeles.
Lilli Cooper, Martha
Cooper made her Broadway debut in Spring Awakening and has not stopped loving the theatre. On Broadway, she replaced in Wicked as the iconic Elphaba from 2014 to 2015 and then chopped to the top as Sandy Cheeks in the Tony-nominated SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical. In addition to her Broadway career, Cooper can be seen in TV shows such as Elementary and movies like The Post. Cooper was in the Indie Award-winning streaming series Indoor Boys written by Alex Wyse and SpongeBob co-star Wesley Taylor. She is on Broadway finishing her run in Tootsie as female lead Julie Nichols, a performance for which she received a Tony nomination. Tootsie runs through January 5, 2020. She also plays Addison Carver as a recurring role on CBS’ The Code.
Gideon Glick, Ernst
Playing Ernst, Hänschen’s love interest, Spring Awakening marked Glick’s Broadway debut. After leaving the show, Glick went on to perform in Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark in 2011 and star in the recent Significant Other, originating the role Jordan Berman Off-Broadway in 2015 and again on Broadway in 2017. Glick starred the upcoming adaptation of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird by Aaron Sorkin, alongside Jeff Daniels and Celia Keenan-Bolger, for which he earned a Tony nomination. Glick took part in a benefit reading of Larry Kramer’s The Destiny of Me, a companion piece to the writer’s The Normal Heart. He filled in for Spring Awakening co-star Groff in Little Shop of Horrors for two weeks in November—while Groff worked on his press tour for Frozen 2. Glick will again take over the role of Seymour when Groff departs the production. Glick will play the role from January 21 through the new extension date of March 8, 2020. Also fun: Glick can be seen in the background of the new movie Marriage Story.
Stephen Spinella, Adult Men
Before gracing the stage of the Eugene O’Neill Theatre to perform in Spring Awakening, Stephen Spinella won a Tony for originating the role of Prior Walter in the 1993 Broadway premiere of Tony Kushner’s Pulitzer-winning Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes. Spinella continued working on Broadway, performing in The Velocity of Autumn as Chris and recently originating the role of Andy Warhold in WarholCapote at A.R.T. in Boston. Spinella has also appeared on television in Royal Pains, Desperate Housewives, and Will & Grace as well as Netflix’s Tales of the City and Bad Education.
Christine Estabrook, Adult Women
While the Drama Desk-winning actress hasn’t performed on Broadway since Spring Awakening, Estabrook has had a wildly successful film and TV career, appearing in Law & Order, Mad Men, American Horror Story, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, as well as the 2019 series Why Women Kill.
Skylar Astin, Georg
Many know him as Jesse of the Treblemakers from the wildly successful Pitch Perfect and Pitch Perfect 2, but few realize that Astin started his career onstage, making his Broadway debut in this musical. While his Spring Awakening character, Georg, may not be too central to the plot, many theatergoers remember Astin for his belting in the song “Touch Me.” In addition to his acting in the Pitch Perfect franchise, Astin has since appeared on Glee, Girls, and in Hamlet 2. He returned to the New York stage in City Center’s presentation of God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater and starred in the Kennedy Center’s summer 2018 production of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying as Finch alongside Betsy Wolfe and Michael Urie. He played Greg in the final seasons of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (replacing Santino Fontana who played the role early on). He is the voice of Branch in the TV series Trolls. Next, he’ll star alongside Broadway’s Alex Newell in NBC’s new musical pilot Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist.
Brian Charles Johnson, Otto
After appearing in Spring Awakening as Otto, Johnson continued his Broadway career in the ensemble of American Idiot. Since then, he has been in several films, most notably The Wolf of Wall Street, and TV shows including Gotham and Master of None, Chicago: Fire, Sneaky Pete, and The Kitchen as Giovani The Butcher.
Phoebe Strole, Anna, Ensemble
Pursuing a film career rather than performing on stage, Strole has starred in several movies since departing Spring Awakening, including The Time Traveler’s Convention, Sorority Wars, and Hamlet 2 (joined by her Spring Awakening cast mate Skylar Astin). In 2014, she starred as Linda Lee—wife of the famed martial arts master, Bruce Lee—in the Off-Broadway production of Kung Fu. She has also appeared on the Emmy-winning Netflix series Glow.
Remy Zaken, Thea, Ensemble
One of the youngest cast members in Spring Awakening, Zaken has since appeared on many hit TV shows, namely Gossip Girl, Bull, and Law & Order. Zaken was the understudy for Zoe Murphy in the Off-Broadway production of Dear Evan Hansen and played Mallory in the Off-Broadway musical Brooklynite at the Vineyard Theatre.
Jennifer Damiano, Ensemble
After performing as an ensemblist in Spring Awakening and understudying the roles of Thea, Martha, and Anna, Damiano has appeared several times on Broadway, garnering a Tony nomination for her performance in Next to Normal as Natalie. Other shows include her leading roles in Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark and American Psycho. She also has appeared on television and film in Gossip Girl, It Could Be Worse, and 4th Man Out. In 2017, Damiano starred in Zack Zadek's musical Deathless at Goodspeed Musicals, directed by Tina Landau. She was featured in the 2018 movie American Dresser, which starred Bruce Dern and Gina Gershon. She will next star in a new musical from Spring Awakening composer Duncan Sheik, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, from The New Group beginning January 2020.
Gerard Canonico, Ensemble
Canonico was initially a member of the ensemble for Spring Awakening, understudying several male principals, but in August 2008 took over the role of Moritz until the show closed. Since then, Canonico has been in the ensemble of American Idiot and originated the role of Fred in Groundhog Day. Off the stage, he can be spotted in several films and shows including Not Fade Away, This American Life, and Stuck. Of course, he also originated the role of Rich in fan favorite Be More Chill. He can be heard on the new recording Beau, an original musical by Douglas Lyons and Ethan D. Pakchar.
Robert Hager, Ensemble
Hager has stayed true to his roots in theatre, taking part in many Broadway productions, including 2009’s Bye Bye Birdie as an understudy for Conrad Birdie and in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying in 2011. In 2015, he starred in Broadway’s Doctor Zhivago later that year, where he originated the role of Yanko, and, later that year, starred as Clyde in Bonnie & Clyde in the TUTS Underground production of the Frank Wildhorn musical in Texas. He also toured nationally with Fun Home.
Krysta Rodriguez, Ensemble
Since performing in Spring Awakening, Rodriguez has pursued an acting career both on and off the stage. You may recognize her from 2008’s In The Heights where she understudied Vanessa, Nina, and Carla, or as the original Wednesday Addams in 2010’s The Addams Family. Rodriguez has also performed in A Chorus Line as Bebe and led the original 2013 musical First Date. Her career came full circle when she appeared in the 2015 Deaf West revival of Spring Awakening as Ilse. Die-hard theatre fans will remember her part on the NBC show Smash and her performances of “If I Were a Boy” and “Reach for Me” alongside Broadway favorites Jeremy Jordan, Megan Hilty, and Christian Borle. She has also guested on Younger, alongside Broadway vet Sutton Foster. She was a series regular on Trial & Error, Season 2 opposite Kristen Chenoweth. She played recurring character Maxine on Quantico as well as Lacy on Taylor and Wyse’s Indoor Boys. Rodriguez plays Ms. Crumble on the new 2019 series Daybreak. This past summer, she originated the role of Meg in the Public Works production of Disney’s Hercules.