Jonathan Groff is opening up about his early days in New York City and his first same-sex kiss.
The future “Frozen” and “Hamilton” star was only about 19 years old when he was a waiter at the Chelsea Grill in Hell’s Kitchen. It’s there that he met Tom Viola, executive director of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS (BC/EFA).
“He talked to me about the organization and the good that they did for the community and he also talked to me about how they have volunteers standing with red buckets collection money [at Broadway theaters],” Groff tells Jan Svendsen on a new episode of the “Broadway Gives Back” podcast.
He added, “You could watch the second act of Broadway shows by signing up as a volunteer. So the volunteering aspect of the organization, plus the fact that I could see theater got me super interested.”
Viola invited Groff to the Broadway Cares offices to learn more about their work. Earlier that day, however, Groff’s life changed in ways he could have never imagined.
“I had my first kiss with this guy that I had a crush on from my hometown, who ended up being my, quote-unquote, roommate, because I wasn’t out of the closet for three and a half years,” recalled Groff, a two-time Tony-nominee for his work in “Spring Awakening” and “Hamilton.” “But I had my first kiss on this day…He had come over to the apartment I was living in, and that happened. And then I was like, ‘I have to go. I have to go meet Tom Viola.’ I remember walking in and meeting him and feeling like my entire body was on fire. I was like levitating thru the offices of BC/EFA.”
In addition to Groff, Season 2 of “Broadway Gives Back” includes episodes featuring interviews with Hugh Jackman, Sergio Trujillo and Jack Noseworthy, TDF’s Victoria Bailey and Dori Bernstein and Sammi Cannold.
Groff’s interview comes on the heels of BCEFA raising more than $1.8 million on June 26 at its annual burlesque show “Broadway Bares” at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City.