When I decided to write this book, I knew I couldn’t do it without devoting an entire section to Jonathan Groff. He’s my best friend in the entire world - in fact, it’s fair to say that I didn’t understand the concept until I met him. He’s been through more ups and downs with me than anyone else. He’s like a brother, and I love him like crazy.
We met at our Spring Awakening audition I had done workshops of the show, so I felt pretty confident that I’d be able to keep my role with the production, but we needed to find a guy to play Melchior. And in walked Jonathan Groff, this kid from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, wearing jeans that were way too short and a shirt that had clearly been washed when it neede to have been dry-cleaned. And the gel! His hair was as hard as a rock. I looked at him and thought, “What a sweet boy, but he’s never going to get this part.” But I helped him that day because it was clear that he was the nicest person: I gave him some insight into things the director liked to see and worked through some of the scenes with him outside the room before we went in. But I can’t take much credit because there was a huge amount of talent beneath the badly fitting outfit and hair gel! Not only did he get the part, but he ended up getting a Tony nomination and the launchpad for an incredibly successful career.
To this day, I’ve never met someone who has understood me more than Jonathan - I can completely be myself, with all my different quirks, and never feel judged. I’ve laughed harder, and cried harder, with Jonathan than I have with anyone else. We’ve been kicked out of Broadway shows for falling into fits of giggles in the audience, and I’ve literally shown up on his doorstep with my heart broken. He always helps me put myself together. After one particularly rough episode with a guy, Jonathan wrote me this incredibly nice letter, in which he told me that I would find someone amazing. He was going away on a vacation and so he gave me a task to complete while he was gone, since he knew I would miss him like crazy and needed distractions. He instructed me to watch every single Meryl Streep movie while he was gone - and said that there would be a quiz when he returned.
And then there was the time we went to Washington, DC, together so that I could sing for President Obama. Melanie was there in the hotel room with us, doing my makeup, and I was trying to focus on the task at hand; serenading the leader of the free world is no small thing. But Jonathan was intent on getting me to laugh, and so a wrestling match/tickle fest went too far, and he made me laugh so hard I peed my pants. I assure you, I showered - but thirty short minutes later, I was in front of the president. Those are the moments that keep you sane, and so I’m eternally grateful to Jonathan for always helping me keep my feet on the ground. If peeing my pants is what it takes, I’m always game.
From the moment I met Jonathan, I knew that he was gay. I’ve always been a loud ad outspoken person who has little to no filter. But for whatever reason, even though I would normally not have been shy about saying, “Oh, you’re gay,” out loud in front of other people (particularly Broadway people), with Jonathan, I held my tongue. I didn’t want to do or say anything that might possibly hurt or embarrass him, particularly because it was apparent that he wasn’t ready to be out. For the first time, I could feel someone’s emotions. I could feel that at that time, he just wasn’t ready, and I needed to give him the space to do it on his own.
We call ourselves City Mouse and Country Mouse, because he grew up with Amish people, while I grew up with cross-dressers in New York City. Watching Jonathan grow over the years has been one of the best things ever: He’s developed an incredible career and been a wonderful son to his parents (who have become my parents’ best friends).
That time in Spring Awakening with Jonathan was the best time of my life. We had a very intense sex scene that we had to do together; you have to feel really comfortable with someone to do that. We went there together, every night. Sometimes we would do the scene and cry the entire time; others, we would be silly and laugh. But we were in it together.
I also have Jonathan to thank for Glee. Jonathan was in Los Angeles filming a TV pilot with Ryan Murphy when I went though a bad break-up (yes, same bad breakup that I’ve mentioned before - ha ha, if you’re reading this, and thanks for getting me my big break!). I needed to get out of NYC and spend some time with Jon, so I flew to L.A. to see him. After I arrived, Jonathan, Ryan and I went to Chateau Marmont, and I spent the night talking to Ryan about how much I love and admire Barbra Streisand. After, Jonathan told me that Ryan was writing a show called Glee and that he wanted me to do it. I was like, “Yeah, right - I’m never going to get that,” as I hadn’t had any luck breaking into TV.
I’m so thankful for him - obviously for introducing me to Ryan and pointing me toward Glee, but mainly because he’s there for me like no one else and it’s such a relief to know that a person like Jonathan is out there.