darren criss how succeed debut Darren Criss after 'Glee' and 'Hedwig': 5 other Broadway roles he'd kill

From our friends at Hypable.
It’s time for the “Glee” cast to move on to greener pastures, and for Darren Criss, that means Broadway. The actor was announced earlier this week as the new star of the Tony Award-winning musical “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.” The show is staged as a solo concert by failed rockstar Hedwig Robinson, an East German transgender woman, sassy, furious and heartbroken as her ex-lover gets famous off of songs that she wrote for him.
At 28, Criss is the youngest actor to tackle the part of Hedwig on Broadway — most notable names, including Neil Patrick Harris, Andrew Rannells and the show’s writer, John Cameron Mitchell, were in their 30s and 40s while performing the role.
Criss made his Broadway debut in January 2012, starring in “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” His three-week turn was the most financially successful in the show’s run, but a frequent criticism of his performance was a lack of power in his vocals. Darren is, by his own admission, not a strong singer in the classical sense — he cannot belt, he could never carry a traditional Broadway score like Wicked or Les Mis, and his style of projecting is rougher and more commonly found in rock music.
This makes “Hedwig”, with its contemporary rock numbers, a fantastic next step for him, offering the opportunity to utilize his incredible comic timing — witnessed more often in
“StarKid” productions than in “Glee” — and his natural voice to its full capacity on stage while portraying a character who’s half overblown persona and half aching sincerity. But what should come next? We explore five roles that Darren Criss should step into after “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.”

shop Darren Criss after 'Glee' and 'Hedwig': 5 other Broadway roles he'd kill

Seymour Krelborn in ‘Little Shop of Horrors’
What’s the role?
“Little Shop of Horrors” is a comedic horror about a hapless florist, Seymour, who nurtures a plant that feeds on human blood. The show is an early venture by famous writing partnership Alan Menken and Howard Ashman — best known for their work with Disney films — and the part of Seymour was played by Rick Moranis in the movie adaptation.
Why he’d fit
This is an ideal part for Darren — part comedic, part romantic, the role of Seymour is that of a classic old-fashioned nerd — will he never escape the bow tie? Darren has shown a passion for Menken’s material over the years, even being selected to take part in a private tribute to the composer, and while we know he loves his Disney covers, it would be great to see him take on something a little less family-friendly. Darren has recently proven his capability this role — he covered a “Little Shop” number in the “Glee” Season 6 premiere, and it made us want him in the musical more than ever!

jersey boys Darren Criss after 'Glee' and 'Hedwig': 5 other Broadway roles he'd kill

Frankie Valli in ‘Jersey Boys’
What’s the role?
“Jersey Boys” is a biographical show about the formation, success and decline of early pop group The Four Seasons. It was the unforgettable voice of Frankie Valli, who we first meet as New Jersey teenager Frank Castelluccio, that propelled the band to stardom. “Jersey Boys” is a jukebox musical, meaning it uses pre-existing songs in the score — in this case, some of the biggest hits of the 1960s and 70s, like “Sherry,” “December, 1963,” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You.”
Why he’d fit
Darren’s voice isn’t ideal for this role — as previously mentioned, his vocals are thin by Broadway standards, and Frankie Valli’s rich smooth projection is hard to replicate. But he does have a strong falsetto, so let’s say for a minute that coaching could whip him into shape, because he’s perfect for this part in every other way. Darren could embody all of Frankie’s mannerisms, not to mention his charm, as easy as breathing. Plus, he’s short, which helps.

anything goes Darren Criss after 'Glee' and 'Hedwig': 5 other Broadway roles he'd kill

Billy Crocker in ‘Anything Goes’
What’s the role?
Billy Crocker is the young male lead in this iconic Cole Porter musical. The light comedy takes place on an ocean liner traveling from New York to London, and it features madcap antics including forbidden romance, petty crime and mistaken identity. Billy stows away on the ship in an attempt to win the love of Hope Harcourt, a rich debutante.
Why he’d fit

Cole Porter’s classic, conversational numbers are well within Darren’s wheelhouse and the show is full of farce and ironic social commentary, much like “How to Succeed.” The true lead of the show is nightclub singer Reno Sweeney, a role that requires some serious star power, so Darren would play a crucial part, but not be pigeonholed as a top-billed “celebrity casting.” “Anything Goes” is one of the most beloved musicals of all time, and taking part in this show has got to be a dream for any lifelong fan of the Golden Age, as Darren is known to be.

the last five years Darren Criss after 'Glee' and 'Hedwig': 5 other Broadway roles he'd kill

Jamie Wellerstein in ‘The Last Five Years’
What’s the role?
As we recently discussed on Hypable, “The Last Five Years” is a contemporary show about the decline of a relationship. The man, Jamie, is a writer who achieves success and acclaim very early in his career, which contributes to a growing distance between him and his wife, Cathy. This is a small-scale, introspective musical presented as a series of “monologue” style solo numbers.

Why he’d fit

If you’ve seen every scrap of Darren footage that the internet has ever dug up, you’ll know that he plays flashy, arrogant douchebag types pretty damn convincingly. Jamie is an charmimg, unapologetically cocky wunderkind. The recent movie adaptation of “The Last Five Years” is impressive, but received a major criticism from many fans — Jeremy Jordan is too sweet in the role, and you forget you’re meant to be holding a grudge. Darren’s Jamie wouldn’t face that problem.

emcee cabaret Darren Criss after 'Glee' and 'Hedwig': 5 other Broadway roles he'd kill

The Emcee in ‘Cabaret’
What’s the role?
Set in 1931, “Cabaret” explores the underground nightlife scene in Berlin during the Nazi rise to power. The musical’s main plot follows the story of Sally Bowles, a young English singer at the Kit Kat club, but the story is narrated by the club’s Master of Ceremonies, a flamboyant, larger-than-life role which features a lot of R-rated material, audience interaction, and a dark and emotional ending.
Why he’d fit
This is Darren Criss’s self-professed dream role for the stage. Darren would be great in Cabaret for many of the same reasons he’s going to be be great in “Hedwig.” The Emcee needs to have magnetism and humor to create a rapport with the audience, as he’s addressing them directly, with stories and songs much like in a real cabaret. Darren’s experience as a solo musician has equipped him with what it takes to play a fourth-wall-breaking character, and the adult material, heavy themes and seedy aesthetic might be a refreshing change after five years as the squeaky-clean Blaine.
What role would you most like to see Darren Criss do on Broadway?
We’ll throw in a few honorable mentions: Mark Cohen in “Rent,” Billy Flynn in “Chicago” (maybe give that one a couple of years), Frank N. Furter in “Rocky Horror,” part of the “Godspell” ensemble, “Reefer Madness,” and maybe even Kristoff in the upcoming “Frozen,” though we’d prefer to see the “Anastasia” adaptation get finished instead.
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