Jonathan Groff

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Jonathan Groff
Jonathan Groff at Outfest 2012.jpg
Groff at Outfest in June 2013
Born Jonathan Drew Groff
(1985-03-26) March 26, 1985 (age 30)
Lancaster, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Occupation Actor, singer
Years active 2005–present

Jonathan Drew Groff (born March 26, 1985) is an American actor and singer. At the age of 22, Groff received a Tony Award nomination for his performance as Melchior Gabor in the Broadway rock musical Spring Awakening. He also portrayed the role of Claude in the critically acclaimed revival of Hair. Regularly seen on the off-Broadway stage, Groff has won an Obie Award for starring in two of Craig Lucas's plays, Prayer for My Enemy and The Singing Forest. He made his West End debut in the revival of the play Deathtrap opposite Simon Russell Beale.

In 2013, Groff starred in the first-ever screen adaptation of author David Sedaris's work, C.O.G., in which he portrayed a character based on Sedaris himself, and as the voice of Kristoff in Frozen. On television, Groff portrayed the recurring role of Jesse St. James in the Fox series Glee, and from 2014 to 2015, he starred as Patrick Murray in the HBO series Looking.

Groff is currently playing the role of King George III in the new Broadway musical Hamilton at the Richard Rodgers Theatre.

Early life[edit]

Groff was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the son of Julie, a physical education teacher, and Jim Groff, a harness horse trainer and driver. He has one older brother, David, and is a first cousin of singer James Wolpert,[1] a semifinalist on the fifth season of The Voice. Groff was raised in Ronks, Pennsylvania.[2]

His father's family is Mennonite; of his upbringing, he has said: "My mother’s side of the family is Methodist, which is how I was raised. It was conservative in that I had strong values—sitting down and eating with the family every day, listening to authority and going to church every week and having perfect attendance at Sunday school. But at the same time, my parents always encouraged my brother and me to be happy with what we were doing. My parents were athletes in high school; my mom and my dad were the stars of the basketball team, but they never pushed my brother and me to be anything we didn’t want to be."[3]

He graduated from Conestoga Valley High School in 2003 and intended to attend Carnegie Mellon University, but deferred his admission for a year when he was cast as Rolf in a non-Equity national tour of The Sound of Music. After the tour, Groff realized he would "never be able to pay off these college loans" and decided to move to New York instead.[4]

While still living in Lancaster, Groff performed at the Fulton Opera House (in The Sound of Music, Ragtime, Evita, My Fair Lady, Peter Pan, The Pirates of Penzance, and Rags) and the Ephrata Performing Arts Center (as Edgar in Bat Boy and Ugly in Honk!).[5][6]


Groff earned his Actors' Equity Association card in 2005, doing the musical Fame at the North Shore Music Theatre. In the same year, he did his Broadway debut as an understudy and swing for the musical In My Life by Joseph Brooks. The musical was about a boy with Tourette's Syndrome, and Groff understudied the lead part. He never performed in the role.[7] Groff originated the role of Melchior Gabor in the Broadway production of Spring Awakening. He played the role from the musical's Broadway debut on December 10, 2006[8] through May 18, 2008. He also played the same role in the original Off Broadway production earlier during the summer of 2006.[9] In April 2007, he was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for his role in Spring Awakening. In May 2007, he was nominated for the Tony Award as Best Leading Actor in a Musical for his performance, with the award eventually going to David Hyde Pierce.[10]

He played the recurring role of Henry Mackler on the ABC soap opera One Life to Live. His storyline about a school shooting on the long-running soap opera was nixed due to the Virginia Tech shooting in April 2007.[11] Groff played as Claude in the Shakespeare in the Park production of Hair, which ran July 22 through August 31, 2008. He also appeared as Michael Lang in Ang Lee's major motion picture, Taking Woodstock. Groff has appeared in the Off-Broadway production of Prayer for My Enemy by Craig Lucas (Prelude to a Kiss, Light in the Piazza) about the consequences the Iraq war has had on an American family.[12] In August 2009, Groff performed The Bacchae as Dionysus as a part of the Public Theater's Shakespeare in the Park.

He guest starred on Glee as Jesse St. James, the male lead of rival glee club Vocal Adrenaline for eight of the back nine episodes. He also serves as a love interest for his former Spring Awakening co-star Lea Michele's character, Rachel Berry.[13] Newsweek critic Ramin Satoodeh stated that Groff was unconvincing in the role of the straight Jesse ("he seems more like your average theater queen, a better romantic match for Kurt than Rachel").[14] Groff's performance was defended by Glee creator Ryan Murphy and guest star Kristin Chenoweth, both of whom described Satoodeh's essay as homophobic; it was also condemned by GLAAD president Jarrett Barrios.[15][16]

In August 2010, he made his West End debut in Deathtrap,[17] at the Noël Coward Theatre in a production directed by Matthew Warchus. Groff returned to Glee at the end of the second season, where his character tried to ask Rachel for forgiveness. He returned to the show on May 10 to finish out the remainder of the second season.[18] Despite leaving the show for the first part of its third season, Groff returned to Glee in Saturday Night Glee-ver as the coach of his former Glee club, Vocal Adrenaline. From August to October 2012, Groff appeared as Ian Todd in the second and final season of the Starz TV series Boss.

Groff played Ken in the Center Theatre Group's production of the Tony Award winning play Red, alongside Alfred Molina reprising his role as painter Mark Rothko. The show ran from August 1 to September 9, 2012.[19] In March 2013, Groff and Molina reprised their roles for six more performances of the play, this time in the L.A. Theatre Works. These performances, like all that take place on LATW, were recorded to be broadcast on radio.[20]

Groff voiced one of the lead roles in Disney's animated feature Frozen. His character, Kristoff, is a rugged mountain man and ice trader. The film premiered on November 19, 2013, and went into wide theatrical release on November 27.[21][22] Following the movie's massive commercial success and its ranking as the highest-grossing animated film of all time, the sixth highest-grossing film of all time, and the highest-grossing film of 2013, Groff reprised his role in the short sequel Frozen Fever, which premiered on March 13, 2015.[23] Groff and his co-stars also appeared in the television special The Story of Frozen: Making a Disney Animated Classic, which aired September 2, 2014, on ABC.

Groff starred as Patrick Murray, a gay video-game developer, in HBO's dramedy Looking, which, following an eight-episode initial order in 2013, was renewed for a second season.[24][25][26] On March 23, 2015, HBO cancelled Looking after its second season, and has made plans to conclude the show's story in a movie later that year.[27] In April 2013, Groff joined another HBO production, playing Craig in the film adaptation of the Larry Kramer play The Normal Heart.[28]

Groff returned to the London stage (for the first time since his West End debut in 2010) on May 19, 2015, to star in a one-night-only concert staging of the musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying at the Royal Festival Hall.[29]

Groff starred in a production of the musical A New Brain presented as part of the New York City Center's Encores! Off-Center staged concert series. The show was directed by the its co-writer James Lapine, and took place June 24–27, 2015.[30]

Groff joined the cast of the musical Hamilton on March 3, 2015, replacing Brian d'Arcy James in the role of King George III. He held the role for the remainder of the show's Off-Broadway production, through May 3, 2015.[31] He reprised the role in the Broadway production, which started performances July 13, 2015.[32] Jonathan Groff, along with the rest of the musical's cast, is nominated for a 2016 Grammy Award, for the musical's original soundtrack, in the category of Best Musical Theater Album. [33]

Personal life[edit]

Groff overcame melanoma skin cancer in his early 20s.[34][35]

Groff came out as gay in October 2009 during the National Equality March in Washington.[36] Since 2010, Groff was rumored to be dating actor Zachary Quinto. In September 2012, Quinto confirmed that he and Groff were in a relationship.[37] In July 2013, it was reported that the two had broken up.[38]

An advocate for the LGBT community, Groff was listed in Out Magazine's OUT100 as one of the 100 most compelling LGBT people in 2013 and again in 2014, this time alongside Murray Bartlett and Russell Tovey, his fellow out co-stars in Looking.[39][40] Also in 2014, he was named a Grand Marshal of the New York City Pride Parade, alongside actress Laverne Cox and National LGBTQ Task Force executive director Rea Carey.[41] In April 2015, he was honored by the Point Foundation with the Point Horizon Award, which "recognizes a young trailblazer who has taken a leadership role as an advocate of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community." According to Point Foundation's executive director and CEO, Jorge Valencia, Groff "is a proud member of the LGBTQ community and uses his position to speak about both the challenges and opportunities young LGBTQ people face in society. As an actor and an advocate, Groff is an inspiration to the next generation of LGBTQ leaders."[42] In December 2015, he was honored by the Equality Pennsylvania organization with the Bayard Rustin Award, which "recognizes a Pennsylvanian who is continuing the work to ensure that the LGBT community will be visible, accepted, and celebrated in our society." According to the organization, Groff "is a highly visible role model and activist for the LGBT Community. And in this role, every day, he brings home the strong and resonant message that LGBT people can do anything, be anything, and can live lives of value and worth."[43]


Year Title Role Notes
2009 Taking Woodstock Michael Lang
2010 Twelve Thirty Jeff
2010 Conspirator, TheThe Conspirator Louis Weichmann
2013 C.O.G. Samuel
2013 Frozen Kristoff Bjorgman Voice
2014 Sophie Ben Short film
2014 Sniper, AmericanAmerican Sniper Young Vet Mads
2015 Frozen Fever Kristoff Bjorgman Voice, short film
TBA Frozen 2 Kristoff Bjorgman Voice
Year Title Role Notes
2007 One Life to Live Henry Mackler Role held: April 11 – May 7, 2007
2008 Pretty/Handsome Patrick Fitzpayne TV pilot
2010–2012, 2015 Glee Jesse St. James 14 episodes
2012 Good Wife, TheThe Good Wife Jimmy Fellner Episode: "Live from Damascus"
2012 Boss Ian Todd Main cast; 10 episodes
2014–2015 Looking Patrick Murray Main cast; 18 episodes
2014 Normal Heart, TheThe Normal Heart Craig Donner TV film
Year Title Role Notes
2015–2016 OTP: One True Pairing Dennis 3 episodes


Year Title Role Notes
2005 Fame Nick Piazza North Shore Music Theatre
May 31 – June 19, 2005
2005 In My Life Understudy / Swing Music Box Theatre
October 20 – December 11, 2005
2006 Spring Awakening Melchior Gabor Atlantic Theatre Company
May 19 – August 5, 2006
2006–08 Spring Awakening Melchior Gabor Eugene O'Neill Theatre
December 10, 2006 – May 18, 2008
2007 Hair (40th anniversary concert) Claude Hooper Bukowski Delacorte Theatre
September 22–24, 2007
2008 Hair Claude Hooper Bukowski Delacorte Theatre
July 22 – August 16, 2008
2008 Prayer for My Enemy Billy Noone Playwrights Horizons
November 14 – December 21, 2008
2009 Singing Forest, TheThe Singing Forest Gray Korankyi / Walter Rieman The Public Theater
April 27 – May 17, 2009
2009 Bacchae, TheThe Bacchae Dionysus Delacorte Theatre
August 11–30, 2009
2010–11 Deathtrap Clifford Anderson Noël Coward Theatre
August 21, 2010 – January 15, 2011
2011 Submission, TheThe Submission Danny Larsen MCC Theater
September 8 – October 22, 2011
2012 Red Ken Mark Taper Forum
August 1 – September 9, 2012
2013 Red Ken L.A. Theatre Works
March 14–17, 2013
2013 Pirates of Penzance, TheThe Pirates of Penzance (concert) Frederic Delacorte Theatre
June 10, 2013
2015 Hamilton King George III The Public Theater
March 3 – May 3, 2015
2015 How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (concert) J. Pierrepont Finch Royal Festival Hall
May 19, 2015
2015 A New Brain Gordon Michael Schwinn New York City Center
June 24–27, 2015
2015 Hamilton King George III Richard Rodgers Theatre
July 13, 2015 – open-ended


Cast recordings[edit]

Other recordings[edit]


Featured singles[edit]

Title Year Peak chart positions Album
"Highway to Hell" (Glee Cast featuring Jonathan Groff) 2010 88 89 Glee: The Music, The Complete Season One
"Run Joey Run" (Glee Cast featuring Jonathan Groff) 61 64 45 12 27
"Another One Bites the Dust" (Glee Cast featuring Jonathan Groff) 79 53 41 101
"Bohemian Rhapsody" (Glee Cast featuring Jonathan Groff)
"Hello" (Glee Cast featuring Jonathan Groff) 35 79 37 31 35 Glee: The Music, Volume 3 Showstoppers
"Total Eclipse of the Heart" (Glee Cast featuring Jonathan Groff) 16 28 17 3 9
"Like a Virgin" (Glee Cast featuring Jonathan Groff) 87 99 83 47 58 Glee: The Music, The Power of Madonna
"Like a Prayer" (Glee Cast featuring Jonathan Groff) 27 28 27 2 16
"Rolling in the Deep" (Glee Cast featuring Jonathan Groff)[54] 2011 29[55] Glee: The Music, Volume 6
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Other appearances[edit]

In February 2011, Jonathan appeared in two promotional videos for his brother Dave's commercial kitchen supply site, the WEBstaurant Store. The first was one promoting the company's Facebook fanpage and contests for its customers. The second was a special Valentine's Day video in which he made a martini and promoted products sold on the site. The martini he made was a special recipe created especially for Jonathan called the "She Loves Me Martini", for the video by Dee Brun, "The Cocktail Deeva".[56][57][58]

In March 2014, Groff performed at Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS benefit concert Broadway Backwards. [59]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Work Result
2007 Tony Award Best Performance by a Actor in a Musical Spring Awakening Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actor in a Musical Nominated
Drama League Award Distinguished Performance Nominated
Theatre World Award Outstanding Debut Performance Won Audience Choice Award Favorite Leading Actor in a Broadway Musical Won
Favorite Male Breakthrough Performance Won
Favorite Onstage Pair (shared with Lea Michele) Won Theatre Fans' Choice Award Best Leading Actor in a Musical Nominated
2009 Obie Award Outstanding Performance Prayer for My Enemy
The Singing Forest
2011 Theatregoers' Choice Award London Newcomer of the Year Deathtrap Won
2012 Los Angeles Award Best Leading Actor in a Play (Touring Production) Red Nominated
2014 Gold Derby TV Award Best Comedy Actor Looking Nominated
EWwy Award Best Actor in a Comedy Series Nominated
NewNowNext Award Best New Television Actor Won
Behind the Voice Actors Awards Best Male Lead Vocal Performance in a Feature Film Frozen Nominated
2015 Point Horizon Award LGBT activism Won
Bayard Rustin Award Won
Grammy Award Best Musical Theater Album Hamilton Pending


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  48. ^ Peak positions for featured singles in the United States:
  49. ^ Peak positions for featured singles in Australia:
  50. ^ Peak positions for featured singles in Canada"
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  55. ^ "Rolling in the Deep (Glee Cast Version featuring Jonathan Groff)". Retrieved 2011-05-19. 
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  57. ^ [1][dead link]
  58. ^ "Rub VODKA on it". Cocktail Deeva. Retrieved 2012-02-17. 
  59. ^ [2][dead link]

External links[edit]