Glee star Darren Criss has big plans for Broadway: after a successful debut this week as the star of the hit musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, the actor hopes to use his fame to bring his own original musical into Midtown.
Already a TV star and a Broadway actor, Darren Criss has also been an amateur composer and scriptwriter for years, part of a collective known as StarKid. And with last year's Chicago premiere of a sci-fi musical called Starship, Darren Criss hopes his success in theater is only beginning.
Criss on Radcliffe: 'We've been on parallel paths.'
StarKid, founded by Criss when he attended the University of Michigan and now a creative ensemble based in Chicago, the group's popularity went viral when a Harry Potter parody called A Very Potter Musical was loaded up on YouTube.
Criss's role as The Boy Who Lived in the parody was what made the actor's big brown eyes and signature eyebrows instantly recognizable.
It also helped make him an instant hit when he became Kurt Hummel's love interest Blaine on the sing-along show Glee.
In fact, the sci-fi and fantasy lover remains baffled that he hasn't been able to meet Daniel Radcliffe yet, the actor who's played the original Harry Potter in all eight films.
After all, his love of Harry Potter helped propel him to fame, and his current stint as J. Pierrepont Finch in How to Succeed was only possible because Radcliffe was leaving the production after 10 months on the stage.
But reminiscing on The Chosen One would only be the beginning. We have lots to talk about, the least of which would be Harry Potter, Criss told Entertainment Weekly.
He noted that both and Radcliffe are active members of the Trevor Project, which works to support LGBT youth. We've been on parallel paths.
The Story Behind 'Starship'
But while Darren Criss takes a three week break from Glee to perform in How to Succeed, the ambitious actor is already looking into other ways to branch out on Broadway, not the least of which is a musical called Starship.
Starship, which features music by Darren Criss and a book by Criss, Brian Holden adn Joe Walker, made its world premiere back in February 2011 at Chicago's Hoovert-Leepen Theatre.
The musical, which Criss called my baby, is dedicated as a love note to sci-fi fans. It uses a combination of live acting and puppetry to relate the epic tale of Bug, an insect who idolizes a group of heroes called the Starship Rangers.
Though the musical has had some success in the Chicago theatre circuit, Criss told Broadway.com that he hopes to bring Starship to Manhattan in the next five years, or at least bring over another production from his old group StarKid.
In addition to Starship, How to Succeed and Glee, meanwhile, Darren Criss says he has four or five other projects in the works, which he hopes to share with his increasingly rabid fans as soon as they're complete.
'Theater is a living creature.'
In the meantime, however, Criss is content to enjoy his Broadway debut in How to Succeed, calling it the easiest thing I've done in a while, in the best sense.
This lifestyle isn't so different from when my mom drove me from theater rehearsal to soccer practice to violin lessons in a single day, Criss said of his run in How to Succeed.
His role as Finch in How to Succeed runs at the Al Hirschfield Theatre until Jan. 22, 2012. But while he may be enjoying the break from a grueling TV schedule, something else is giving him serious opening night jitters.
Everyone's like, 'Oh, I gotta go to your opening night!' he said of his friends and family. But I'm terrified. I'm like, 'No! See it at, like, two and a half weeks.'
Why? Because unlike being on a TV screen, a live audience takes some serious getting used to.
Theater is a living creature, Criss said. It takes a while to break in, like a new pair of shoes.
Below, watch the opening scene in Starship, available in full on YouTube, as well as Darren Criss as Harry Potter in A Very Potter Musical.
Starship Act I Part I:
A Very Potter Musical Act I Part I: