Dining with the star

By on May 18, 2011

By: MICHAEL C. UPTON Review Correspondent, Staff Writer

On New Year’s Eve, Alixe Ingoglia attended a fundraising benefit gala at Lily’s on Main for the Ephrata Performing Arts Center.

Beyond admission to the event, the non-profit theater group raffled chances to win airline tickets to anywhere in the United States and a luxurious dining experience with actor Jonathan Groff.

"I threw in a couple (raffle) tickets for the airline tickets, threw in a few for dinner with Jonathan; I thought what the heck," Ingoglia said.

Having other plans for the transition between 2010 and 2011, Ingoglia did not stick around to see who won either prize. She thought her odds were slim.

"They called me at like 11:40 on New Year’s Eve and they said, ‘Alixe you won dinner with Jonathan!’" Ingoglia recalled.

Ingoglia had previously met Groff while he was rooming in New York City with a mutual friend. In New York, Groff found national stardom while playing the male lead in the Tony Award-Winning musical "Spring Awakening." Ingoglia saw the show multiple times. Groff, who grew up in Lancaster County and attended Conestoga Valley School District, cut his acting teeth with EPAC. Early on, his performance in "Batboy" (2004) garnered regional acclaim. Most recently, Groff returned to the Fox Television hit "Glee," adding more preteens and teens to his fan base.

Ingoglia started with EPAC in the 2008 production of the Rocky Horror Show. Since then she has been working on-stage and backstage for several productions.

"My mother does backstage stuff (at EPAC); she’s done stage managing and stage crew," Ingoglia said.

It is no wonder that Ingoglia picked her mother to be her plus one for this momentous occasion.

"I’m very honored that my lovely daughter chose me to be with her," Cathy Ingoglia said. "It’s my birthday gift."

Cathy Ingoglia’s birthday was the day before the dinner. For their evening spectacular, a limousine whisked the Ingoglia’s from their Columbia home and arrived in Ephrata just before Groff’s arrival at 7 p.m. Graciously accepting the adoration of a small group of fans, Groff made his way to the second floor of the Brossman Business Complex and had a few minutes for questions. It seems that Groff has left the glitz of Broadway for the lights, sights and opportunity of Los Angeles.

"I just went back to ‘Glee’ and shot a couple of episodes; we finished that on Wednesday. Now I’m looking for the next job," Groff said.

By design or by chance, Groff often keeps his screen and theater appearances low key. He recently played a sleazy witness in the trial of Mary Surratt in the history drama "The Conspirator" and owned the screen in the independent film "Twelve Thirty" released in Philadelphia on May 6.

After three months, L.A. is treating Groff well. However, he will never miss an opportunity to get back to Lancaster County.

"I got in touch with Eddie (EPAC Artistic Director Ed Fernandez) and he said, ‘we’re going to raise some money for the playhouse; would you be willing to auction off a dinner?’ And I said, yeah, sure, of course," Groff said.

There are many things about Lancaster County that this rising star loves and will never forget. One of those things is EPAC. More GROFF, page A18

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