Jonathan Groff Was 'Weeping in the Wings' After Being Tony Nominated for Merrily We Roll Along | Playbill

Tony Awards Jonathan Groff Was 'Weeping in the Wings' After Being Tony Nominated for Merrily We Roll Along

Groff is up for Best Lead Actor for his performance as Franklin Shepard in the Broadway revival.

Jonathan Groff Heather Gershonowitz

Jonathan Groff is currently starring—and Tony Award-nominated for his performance—as Franklin Shepard in the Broadway revival of Merrily We Roll Along. Despite receiving two nominations in the past, the actor is nearly overcome with emotion when he talks about his most recent nod.

"I can't stop crying. I mean, it's really like such an emotional, intense day," Groff says. "Our show got seven nominations, it was so joyful and so happy. And then halfway through the first act, I was singing the song 'Growing Up,' and I lost it, and was then weeping in the wings and had to slap myself across the face, to get it together to go out and just continue to act. It's such a special show with such a special group. It's a show about dreams, and about being artists and friends in New York City. I think George Furth and Stephen Sondheim wrote something so personal...we sing about Tony Awards in the show. So there's a lot of meta energy with show business, and friendship, and artistry." 

Groff certainly knows a thing or two about show business: The actor made his Broadway debut in 2005 as an understudy, swing, and dance captain in Joseph Brooks' In My Life. The following year, he originated the role of Melchior in Spring Awakening on Broadway, which earned him his first Tony nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical. Groff credits his Spring Awakening cast mates for getting him to where he is today: "We're all super tight. We did our reunion concert in November of 2021. And then, I found out about Merrily in, I think it was January of 2022, they asked me to do the show...Every single member of that [Spring Awakening] cast, we just have stayed so tight and have continued to come up and rise up together and it's incredibly special."

After working on stage and screen for several years—including roles in Glee, Frozen, and the 2014 film adaptation of The Normal Heart—Groff stepped into the role of King George III in Hamilton at The Public Theater in 2015, succeeding Brian d'Arcy James. Groff reprised his role for the musical's Broadway transfer, remaining with the production through April 2016. He received his second Tony nomination for his performance, this time for Best Featured Actor in a Musical, as well as a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for his performance in the stage recording released on Disney+.

Despite his forays into film and TV (including the current season of Doctor Who on Disney+), Groff is still such a theatre fan that, as he charmingly notes, "Playbill is, like, my number-one-visited website on my laptop."

Groff starred as Franklin Shepard in the 2022 New York Theatre Workshop revival of Merrily We Roll Along, before transferring with the production to Broadway. With seven 2024 Tony nominations including Best Revival, the new production has turned the musical's reputation as a Broadway flop on its head. It's now a certified hit, though that's not the best part of doing the show, says Groff.

"It's a dream to make art with your friends, and to have it be respected and seen," Groff adds. "It's so rare, it's so special, it's so meaningful. A lot of work, a lot of brilliant, amazing work is happening all the time, all over the city. And so to get like a spotlight shone on us, to get the spotlight at long last on this show, on Merrily We Roll Along, is so profound. It just means everything."

Winners will be named at the 77th Annual Tony Awards, set for June 16 at Lincoln Center's David H. Koch Theater. The evening will kick off with The Tony Awards: Act One, streaming for free on Pluto TV. Details are to be announced. The 77th Annual Tony Awards will follow beginning at 8 PM ET, broadcasting live on CBS (check local listings) and streaming live (for premium-level subscribers) via Paramount+. All Paramount+ subscribers will have on demand access to the broadcast beginning June 17. Stage and screen star Ariana DeBose will be back for the third consecutive year to host.

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Photos: Meet The 2024 Tony Award Nominees

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