Jonathan Groff, who starred on Broadway in “Spring Awakening,” is now better known for his recurring role as Jesse St. James on “Glee.”
Now he’s returned to his theatrical roots, currently appearing onstage in the new Off-Broadway drama “The Submission.”
How did you get involved with “The Submission”? I moved out to L.A. a couple months ago. Then, in June, I was sent the script and offered the part straight up. I didn’t have to audition or anything.
Was it the first time you didn’t have to audition for a role? Yeah, that never happened to me before. I later found out that the playwright [Jeff Talbott] had seen me on Broadway and actually wrote the play with my voice in his mind. That’s the first time anyone’s said that to me, too.
What do you think of your West Village venue, the Lucille Lortel Theatre? I love, love, love that space and that neighborhood. All of us in the cast have been talking about how lucky we feel to be in that specific theater.
What’s “The Submission” about? I play this playwright who writes about an alcoholic black mother and her son. And he thinks no one will take it seriously if they find out it’s written by a young white guy. So he submits it to the Humana Festival under a black woman’s name, and they decide to produce it.
As an actor, have you ever felt that kind of desperation to succeed? Absolutely. When I was 19 and moved to New York, I’d wake up at 5 a.m. with my tap shoes and go to all the open calls.
Do you see yourself doing more theater after this? It all depends — I’m just going where the work is.
Will you be back on “Glee” this season? I don’t know. Everything I’ve done with “Glee” has been really last-minute. But I have a blast on the show.
Do you regret your decision to not do “Hair” on Broadway after its Central Park premiere? No. I saw it like four times on Broadway, and I was so happy for how successful it was. I spent that year doing Off-Broadway work — I was 23 or 24, hadn’t gone to college, and wanted to push some different buttons and experience different things as an actor.
If you go: “The Submission” plays at the Lucille Lortel Theatre through Oct. 22. 121 Christopher St., 212-727-7722, mcctheater.org.