Jonathan Drew Groff born on March 26, 1985 is an American singer-songwriter, stage, television and film actor. He originated the role of Melchior Gabor in Spring Awakening and appeared as Jesse St. James in the musical television series Glee.
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 through May 18, 2008. He also played the same role in the original Off Broadway production earlier during the summer of 2006. Other Broadway credits include the 2005 musical, In My Life. Groff also was in the National Tour of The Sound of Music as Rolf, and appeared in Fame at the North Shore Music Theater in Beverly, Massachusetts. 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. 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, and he is no longer on the show. Before performing on the Broadway stage, Jonathan was a performer at The Ephrata Performing Arts Center in Ephrata, Pennsylvania. There he portrayed such characters as Edgar in Bat Boy: The Musical and Ugly in Honk!. Groff played as Claude in the Shakespeare in the Park production of Hair, which ran July 22 through August 31[when?] and as Michael Lang in Ang Lee's film, 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. In August 2009, Groff performed The Bacchae as Dionysus as a part of the Public Theater's Shakespeare in the Park. He was guest starring 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. 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"). 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. In August 2010 he made his West End debut in Deathtrap, at the Noel Coward Theatre in a production directed by Matthew Warchus.
Groff was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to a Methodist mother – Julie, a gym teacher – and Mennonite father – Jim, a harness horse trainer and driver. He has one older brother, David. 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." Groff graduated from Conestoga Valley High School in 2003.
Groff told Broadway.com during the National Equality March in Washington, D.C., that he is "gay and proud". Groff guest starred in the back nine episodes of the first season of Glee along with Spring Awakening co-star Lea Michele. He introduced Michele to Glee creator Ryan Murphy prior to the show's start.