“Spring Awakening's" Jonathan Groff reflects on the musical's impact, how it inspired his coming out journey, and his lifelong friendship with Lea Michele ahead of new HBO doc

On Tuesday, May 3rd, Spring Awakening is headed from the stage to our screens for a one-night only reunion concert. Premiering on HBO and streaming on HBO Max, Spring Awakening: Those You've Known will feature the original cast and creative team from the Tony-winning Broadway musical. In support of The Actors Fund, the film contains performances and behind the scenes conversation revealing the show’s origins, its journey to sweeping at the Tonys, the ever-prevalent themes of teenage repression and angst, and the unconventional love story between the show’s breakout stars Jonathan Groff and Lea Michele.

Anthony Allen Ramos, GLAAD’s Vice President of Communications and Talent, was joined by the pair to discuss the documentary as well as their beautiful friendship. 

“I got to be in my early twenties, surrounded by Lea, and a cast of people that were so loving and supportive and respectful of what I wasn’t able to talk about at that time,” says Groff on the start of his journey with Spring Awakening. “To be able to play this part of Melchior, someone who doesn’t let the world define him, who’s incredibly articulate, who’s incredibly intelligent, and incredibly fearless. … He was everything I wished I could be.” Groff explains how after the show's closing, he took his in-depth, meaningful exploration of Melchior and applied it to himself. A month later, he came out.

Michele gushes over her castmate, who is also her best friend. The pair grew incredibly close during their time on the show. Michele, a lifelong ally, was always someone Groff could confide in as he came to terms with his sexuality, despite her revealing to have had a crush on him. “The day he did come out to me, it was like, ‘yeah ok, what are you ordering for dinner?’” 

“It was so incredible to watch, I can’t believe all these years later, to just see how much he’s grown, I’m so proud of him for living his truth, it’s just so beautiful. He will inspire and move and help so many kids by telling his story,” says Michele on Groff’s impact as an LGBTQ superstar.

Michele went on to add that her friendship with Groff was at “soulmate status.” When asked about what it was like to have had such unconditional support from Lea Michele, Groff says “It’s everything. We've always had each other’s backs. We held each other through that experience when we were so young…” “And to this day.” Michele adds. 

The co-stars are excited for Spring Awakening to reach a new audience through this documentary. “This show is such a gift to young performers and the young audience.” Groff states, as it brings light to important issues like abuse and teen suicide. “It saves lives, it changes lives.”

Watch the full interview with Groff, Michele, and Ramos here:

Tune in to HBO or HBO Max on Tuesday, May 3rd to stream Spring Awakening: Those You've Known for amazing performances and a closer look at this groundbreaking musical.