‘Grey’s Anatomy’s’ Kate Burton on Her 16 Famous “Children” (Including Lea Michele)

in Spring Awaking:

Let’s jump to Broadway. You played mom to Jonathan Groff, Skyler Astin and Lea Michele in Spring Awakening before any of them really broke out.

And John Gallagher (Newsroom)! I did the workshop of that show with Groff, Gallagher and Michele that went to Broadway. I knew early on that the show was really extraordinary. They did it off-Broadway and it went through the roof. Then the woman who played all the moms had to go to the hospital and we didn’t have understudies. The theater company asked me to come in. It was a harrowing experience because the show moved so fast. I did that for one terrifying night and then they moved it to Broadway. I said to the producers if Christine Estabrook, who is playing all the moms, ever wants to take some time off for a few weeks, I’d love to come in for her. Lea was obsessed with Grey’s Anatomy! Every time I came on, whether it was off-Broadway, she’d say, “You have to tell me what’s going to happen! Are Meredith and McDreamy going to get back together?! What’s going to happen to Cristina?!” She was a riot. At that point, she was a little theater actress who went from show to show, one musical after the other. And the next thing I know, there she is on Sunset Boulevard and I’m looking up at her [on billboards]. When I went on to do Spring Awakening, Lea was so helpful to me with the transitions, it was a hard show to get into and I ended up doing it for 10 weeks on Broadway. One time I was with my own son, Morgan Ritchie, at the movies way before Glee and suddenly we hear, “Mom! Mom!” He looks up and Lea is running toward us. He was delusional! (Laughs.) That’s always been the case with Lea, who I love so much. Jonathan I was with at the Emmys this year and I’m so proud of him.