Lea Michele flirts with glee at SAG party as date Jonathan Groff keeps track of her purse

LEA MICHELE knows what a platonic date is good for: holding your purse. The “Glee” star attended the Screen Actors Guild awards on Sunday in Los Angeles with pal Jonathan Groff, who is also her former “Spring Awakening” and ‘Glee” co-star. Later, at the People Magazine and Entertainment Industry Foundation after-party, Groff was spotted holding the actress’ handbag for her while she flirted with a blond, blue-eyed “total hottie” at the bar for over 20 minutes. The 25-year-old Michele split from boyfriend Theo Stockman this fall after they had dated more than a year. Also at the fete (held in the gala tent behind Shrine Auditorium), along with the rest of the “Glee” cast, were Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Stacey Keibler, and Rumer Willis. JUSTIN LONG got out of Dodge late Thursday evening. The actor hung with “Chronicle” co-star Ryan Phillippe at the Back Room on the lower East Side where a source says a “large, dark-haired” woman, who had clearly been over-served, started throwing cups and dishes. Long snuck into the actual back room of the venue when the dish-tossing commenced. Security tried to escort the woman, who was dressed in a gold pantsuit, out of the venue. By this point, Phillippe was nowhere in sight. ANDERSON COOPER was a different kind of host on Saturday evening. A source says the “Anderson Cooper 360” anchor held a birthday party for openly gay party planner Josh Wood, of Josh Wood Productions, in the converted firehouse in Greenwich Village that Cooper bought for $4.3M in 2009. Cooper, “dressed casually in a T-shirt and glasses,” was “really social at the party [and] talked to all of his guests.” DANNY O’DONNELL and John Banta’s wedding brought out New York's political royalty Saturday — as well as his famous sister. The assemblyman and his partner of 31 years were wed by Judith Continue Reading

Lauren Groff’s ‘Arcadia’ details the fraying of a utopian commune’s bonds

“Arcadia” By Lauren Groff (Voice, $25.99) Lauren Groff’s second novel, “Arcadia,” is so tenderly moving it actually swells the heart. The fates should be lauded for assigning the author Cooperstown, N.Y., as her hometown, for she’s drawn two exceptional novels from the terrain of upstate New York, including her first, the highly original “The Monsters of Templeton.” Groff hangs her story about a utopian commune in the 1970s on one of its youngest members, little boy Bit, or more formally, Ridley Sorrel Stone. It’s such a dignified name for a child who will grow up in squalor, the emotional and physical refuse created by hippie idealists who retreat from the world to live off the land with no idea of how to till it. Their leader, the musician Handy, rules by charisma. Bit’s parents, the strong-bodied carpenter Abe and his pillowy wife Hannah, are the boy's strength and comfort even as his mother succumbs to an enveloping depression. There is magic in the natural beauty of their surroundings, a kindly witch of woman who lives deep in the forest, and the love of two good people to shape Bit’s sequestered childhood. But not every child of the commune shared this wealth. Helle, Handy’s daughter, later details her bitterness. “It was cold. We never had enough clothes... Everywhere smelled like spunk. Handy let me drink the acid Slap-Apple when I was like 5. What kind of hallucinations does a 5-year-old have? For two months, I saw snakes coming out of my mother's mouth every time she talked.” Bit is 14 when his parents load the car to make their getaway. The commune’s numbers have swollen beyond containment with runaways and drifters with no intention of contributing to the common good. A police raid signals the beginning of the end. His mother wakes him in the night “Baby,” she murmurs in his ear, “Grab your things.” We meet Bit again as Continue Reading

‘The Submission’ review: ‘Glee’ veteran Jonathan Groff plays gay writer hiding behind another’s name

It takes more than a juicy setup and tangy talking points to make a great play. Obviously. But it's easy to be reminded of that during "The Submission," a dramedy about a struggling New York writer who goes to extremes to get his play produced. Jeff Talbott won the inaugural Laurents/Hatcher Award for emerging writers worth $150,000 for the work, now premiering at the Lucille Lortel. The 100-minute one-act is showcased in a terrifically acted and slickly designed production directed by Walter Bobbie for MCC Theater. (Two-thirds of the prize money went toward staging cost). Jonathan Groff, known for "Spring Awakening" and "Glee," is great in the key role. He's gutsy and dynamic and almost sympathetic (almost) as Danny Larsen, a gay dramatist who's had it with rejection. Inspired by a chance subway encounter, he writes a play about a poor black inner-city family, but - cagey guy that Danny is - he does so under the name of Shaleeha G'ntamobi. When his play is accepted at the Humana Festival, Dan hires a black actress, Emilie (a ferocious and funny Rutina Wesley, of "True Blood") to pretend to be him, well, her. He'll reveal all when the time is right. The plot thickens and sickens when Emilie starts to feel proprietary about the project, and Danny reveals his unsettling true colors, which shock even his boyfriend, Pete (Eddie Kaye Thomas), and BFF Trevor (Will Rogers). Talbott raises intriguing ideas about whether someone can write sensitively, even masterfully, on any given subject, and whether one group subjected to bigotry can relate to another. Too often, however, situations are contrived, including Emilie's agreeing to a no-win involvement in the conspiracy. Eventually, the play falters from heavy-handed expressions like "you people." In fact, as the play unfolds, Danny and Emilie become just a couple of mouthpieces sittin' around talking. And shouting. The final showdown gets louder and uglier, until it leads to an inevitable epithet. You Continue Reading

‘Glee’ finale: Lea Michele and Jonathan Groff perform Adele’s ‘Rolling in the Deep’

"Glee" is pulling out all stops for its season finale on Tuesday.Rebecca Black's "Friday," the show will also feature an a capella rendition of Adele's "Rolling in the Deep."Lea Michele) and Jesse (Jonathan Groff) duet on the powerful song about heartbreak after he shows up at McKinley High just before the prom.Rachel's heart -- but not before he's confronted by Finn (Cory Monteith).Stevie Wonder and Christina Perri's "Jar of Hearts." Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

On the Scene: Jonathan Groff goes from ‘Spring Awakening’ to ‘The Bacchae,’ ‘Taking Woodstock’

Jonathan Groff goes from 'Spring Awakening' to 'The Bacchae,' 'Taking Woodstock'Jonathan Groff is all over our August calendar of RSAs (Rising Star Alerts). The Tony nominee who bared his soul, voice and bum in “Spring Awakening” is getting a double career boost next month. Up first is his role as the prince of partiers, Dionysus, in the Public Theater’s production of “The Bacchae.” It opens at the Delacorte Theater, where Groff played Claude in “Hair” before it moved to Broadway and snagged a Tony for Best Musical Revival. Previews start Aug. 11. A couple of weeks later, Groff (with “Hair” co-stars Darius Nichols and Will Swenson, below) pops up in “Taking Woodstock,” Ang Lee’s big-screen take on those three days of peace, love and music in 1969. He plays the Brooklyn-born concert promoter Michael Lang. Groff tells the Daily News’ Joe Dziemianowicz he’s still flying high from the chance to work with the Oscar-winning director and cast that includes Emile Hirsch, Liev Schreiber and Paul Dano. “It was amazing,” he said. “Even more so since it was my first movie.”While flashing back four decades was cool, he’s “thrilled to be back in Central Park” and glancing even further back for “The Bacchae,” an ancient Greek tragedy. The show features music by the always-unpredictable Philip Glass. “I just heard the music,” Groff said. “Philip Glass has written some really crazy stuff.” Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Broadway star Jonathan Groff to join cast of Fox musical comedy ‘Glee’

Cue the duet!Broadway’s Jonathan Groff is joining the cast of Fox’s hit musical comedy “Glee” for five or six episodes, according to EW.com.Groff, 24, starred in “Spring Awakening” alongside Lea Michele, who plays glee club queen bee Rachel Berry on the series.Groff will play the lead male singer of Vocal Adrenaline, the vocal group seen in the pilot episode performing “Rehab,” and will serve as a potential love interest for Rachel. “He is a male diva,” said “Glee” creator Ryan Murphy. “A miva.”Murphy also recently revealed that the cast of “Glee” will go on tour next summer.Meanwhile, in other “Glee” news, Joss Whedon (“Buffy, The Vampire Slayer,” “Dollhouse”) will direct an upcoming episode, according to E! Online. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Jonathan Groff and Aaron Lazar bring fresh intelligence to ‘A New Brain’ in Encores! series

“Aaron Lazar plus this song equals a panty-dropper,” says Jonathan Groff, Lazar’s co-star. “Male and female panties.” The emotionally charged show tune in question, “I’d Rather Be Sailing,” is part of William Finn’s musical “A New Brain.” The show runs Wednesday through Saturday at the Encores! Off-Center concert series. Groff, known for “Spring Awakening” and HBO’s “Looking,” and Lazar, seen recently on Broadway in “The Last Ship,” play boyfriends in the musical drawn from Finn’s real-life health crisis. Groff was obsessed with “A New Brain” as a teen. Lazar is discovering the musical. “This whole show,” Lazar says, “is a beautiful surprise for me.” Go to nycitycenter.org for details on “A New Brain.” You can hear the complete conversation with Groff and Lazar on the Joe D Show podcast. Continue Reading

EXCLUSIVE: ‘I felt like I won the lottery by accident!’ Jonathan Groff on playing King George in ‘Hamilton’ on Broadway

It’s good to be the king. So says Jonathan Groff, who confirms that he is reprising the plum part of King George III on Broadway in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hip-hop biomusical “Hamilton,” starting performances July 13 at the Richard Rodgers. In an interview for The Joe D Show podcast with Aaron Lazar about their roles as boyfriends in the Encores! Off-Center production of William Finn’s musical “A New Brain” at City Center, Groff explains how he came to the royal role of King George — and why he wanted more. “They asked me before I’d heard any of the music for ‘Hamilton,’” says Groff in his first interview about moving with the show to Broadway. “It hadn’t opened yet. But they knew in advance that Brian had to leave. They called me,” and were like ‘Do you want to do it?’ And I was like ‘Yeah, for two months. I don’t even know what it is. But they’re like ‘You just have one song’ and I was like, great. Whatever.” Then he saw “Hamilton,” about founding father Alexander Hamilton at the Public Theater. “I was like ‘Oh my God.’ I couldn’t believe it,” says Groff. “Lin was making fun of me because I couldn’t stop crying through the whole thing. I felt like I won the lottery by accident. Yeah, I want to do this for long. It’s so fun. I’m not in the show that much so I’d just watch the show because I was like, ‘What the f--- is happening right now.’ It’s just so good.” “A New Brain” runs June 24-27 at New York City Center. The Joe D Show (on iTunes) with Groff, who shows off his new piano playing skills, and Lazar, who performs a snippet of the song “I’d Rather Be Sailing,” airs June 19. Continue Reading

The Joe D Show: ‘A New Brain’ stars Jonathan Groff and Aaron Lazar

Guests for this week’s "The Joe D Show" podcast are Jonathan Groff and Aaron Lazar, stars of “A New Brain” at New York City Center June 24-27. Groff (“Spring Awakening,” “Looking”) knows the 1998 autobiographical musical by William Finn like the back of his hand. He learned to play piano for it — and you can hear him tickle the keys. Lazar (“The Last Ship”) is discovering the show — and carries the rapturous song, “I’d Rather Be Sailing.” He sings a tiny snippet. Listen to the The Joe D Show to hear more of this lively, if a little bit F-bomb-laced conversation about “A New Brain,” “Hamilton,” “Looking,” “The Prince of Egypt,” joint showers (you need to hear it) and more. Make sure to find us on iTunes (http://apple.co/1xmnrYx) and subscribe for more episodes. This podcast is edited by Frank Posillico and produced by me. Want more ‘The Joe D Show’? Check us out on iTunes, Stitcher or your podcast provider of choice. And if you like the show, let them know with a review. We want to hear from you. Hit us up on the Twitter with the hashtag #JoeDShow, and follow us at @TheJoeDShow, and find more articles, reviews and theater news at nydailynews.com. Get more Daily News podcasts. Continue Reading

‘A New Brain’ review: Jonathan Groff and company light up Encores! Off-Center show

A TUNEFUL and chipper number in “A New Brain” repeatedly points out that you need “heart and music to survive.” The show heeds half that smart advice. Back in a starry and beautifully sung Encores! Off-Center concert staging led by Jonathan Groff, this 1998 show has more than enough music from composer/lyricist William Finn. This quirky and intensely personal 90-minute work about Finn’s own life-and-death medical crisis is practically sung-through. A few musical gems pop up in a score chockablock with character-driven songs, novelty numbers, pretty ballads and unexpected, grin-inducing rhymes (“elbow/hell no”). On the other hand, this “Brain” could use more heart. Maybe Finn, who co-wrote the book with director James Lapine, is too close to the material. But there’s an almost clinical detachment toward the characters. Gordon, a struggling composer eager to create something, played by Groff, is sketchily drawn. Relationships with his boyfriend Roger and mother Mimi and others close to him are underexplored. Wispy connections stunt a fuller and richer emotional wallop. Fortunately, Lapine has assembled a cast of Broadway pros who enrich underwritten principal roles. As Roger, Aaron Lazar adds a sweet-and-hunky presence and vocals to match. His version of the wishful and lovely “I’d Rather Be Sailing” is as seductive as a cool ocean breeze. Funny girl Ana Gasteyer shows serious pipes in the touching “The Music Still Plays On,” about a mother’s fears. Dan Fogler won a Tony for Finn’s “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” Here he lends humor as Gordon’s boss. Josh Lamon adds fun as a chubby “nice” male nurse. And Rema Webb is such a soulful powerhouse you almost don’t mind that the homeless woman who sings of change — in every sense — seems to have drifted in from “Rent.” Continue Reading