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Broadway, Hollywood Actor Jonathan Groff Surprises ‘Evita’ Cast

By MELISSA HUNNEFIELD

Lancaster County Weeklies

After wrapping up a performance, the cast of Susquehanna Stage Company’s “Evita” made quite a discovery: Hollywood and Broadway actor Jonathan Groff was in the audience.

Groff was home in Lancaster County for the weekend visiting family when he attended the show on Saturday, July 27.

“His mom came to see ‘Company’ a couple months ago and very much enjoyed the show and our new theater,” said SSC volunteer and performer Colleen Mackison. “She suggested that while he was home for the weekend that they try to come see ‘Evita,’ knowing he would enjoy just sitting back and having fun being an audience member instead of performing.”

Groff, 34, is no stranger to community theater. The Conestoga Valley High School grad’s earliest acting experiences were as Edgar in “Bat Boy: The Musical” and Ugly in “Honk!” at Ephrata Performing Arts Center.

His more well-known credits include his Tony nominated appearance as King George III in Broadway’s “Hamilton,” the recurring part of Jesse St. James in the Fox musical-comedy series “Glee,” the voice of Kristoff in Walt Disney Animation Studios’ film “Frozen,” and the role of FBI Special Agent Holden Ford in the Netflix period crime drama “Mindhunter.”

“He was so kind and gracious,” Mackison said. “He stayed at least 45 minutes after the show was over to take pictures with fans and sign autographs.”

Groff also took the time to speak with Mackison’s teenage son, Jered, who performs in “Evita” — his 13th time onstage — and gave him kind and encouraging compliments on his performance.

Groff went to see “Evita” with his mother, Julia, and his young niece, Mackison explained. He also knows the Ditzler family, four of whom have roles in the musical.

“He was so impressed with the family atmosphere within the theater,” said Mackison. “Of course, we asked him to please come back and visit any time he is back in town, and he smiled and said ‘Oh absolutely! This is fantastic!’” In addition to photos and autographs, Mackison and her family walked away with a very special memento.

“I had him sign our copy of ‘Frozen!’” she said. “He laughed and said it sure wasn’t the first one of those he’d signed.”

“Evita” is being staged at Susquehanna Stage Company in Marietta through Sunday, Aug. 4; tickets can be purchased at susquehannastageco.com.

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