Actor Jonathan Groff shared a touching tribute to his pal and former Spring Awakening co-star Lea Michele — and New York through her eyes — in a self-penned essay published by Variety on Wednesday (Oct. 12).
The actress, known most notably for her role as Rachel Berry in Glee, is back in the Big Apple 13 years after her debut in Les Misérables to make her return to Broadway as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl. “By bringing big business back to Broadway, Lea isn’t just making audiences happy, she’s helping support the restaurants and hotels that thrive when Broadway draws a huge crowd,” wrote Groff. “By welcoming her back to Broadway, New York is giving Lea the power to reconnect with her truest self. The power of New York finally brought her home.”
Funny Girl has been an economic powerhouse, making $1.6 million in Michele’s first box office week ending Sept. 11. The stunning success is no surprise for Groff, who met Michele in 2005 and knew her primarily as a Broadway star. He fondly painted a picture of his friend in the essay that is authentically New York, complete with one of her grandfathers being involved in the mob. “Lea was New York to me. After our time together in Spring Awakening, Lea ascended to fame with the success of Glee, and left the city,” Groff recounted.
While Groff speaks fondly of Michele’s return to the theater main stage, not everyone is rushing to see her Funny Girl performance. Michele’s Glee co-star, Chris Colfer refused an invite to see her performance, he said in an interview with Sirius XM, referencing rumors of mean-girl behavior displayed by Michele on the Glee set. “My day suddenly just got so full,” Colfer said. “No, I can be triggered at home.”