Feeling gleeful with Darren Criss

Darren Criss 1

When Darren Criss was a kid going to American Conservatory Theater’s Young Conservatory, he attended one of the company’s annual galas. Joel Grey was the headliner. Now Criss, all grown up and all of 25, is the headliner for this year’s ACT gala.

To say that San Francisco native Criss has been on a rocket to fame ever since his first appearance as Blaine Anderson on the hit FOX series “Glee” would be to understate his rise to national prominence. He’s had hit records and spent three weeks on Broadway (last January he replaced Daniel Radcliffe in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying).

How Criss has managed to keep a level head on this meteoric journey is a mystery, but in a conversation with the multi-talented young actor on a recent Friday morning, he came across as not only charming and grounded but also, perhaps not surprisingly, intelligent and funny.

I interviewed Criss about his headlining gig at ACT’s Expect the Unexpected gala this Sunday (April 15) for an article in the San Francisco Chronicle. Read the story here.

There wasn’t enough room in the story to include everything we talked about, so here are some of the “deleted scenes” if you will.

Q: What do you remember about working with 42nd Street Moon?
Working with them exposed me to a lot of stuff I fell in love with. Babes in Arms was an especially great experience. I sang “Where or When” for my “Glee” audition. I sang two songs, that and a jazzy rendition of “Baby One More Time.”

Q: When you bring friends back to San Francisco, what do you like to show them about where you grew up?
I’m very nostalgic. I went to Stuart Hall, which is reminiscent of Dalton Academy with this gorgeous Victorian architecture. I sneak in every now and then with friends and say, “Look, I went to school at Hogwarts. There’s such a great view from up there overlooking the Marina to the bridge. It’s the best. I love doing that. I like to show people a lot of the stuff I love about San Francisco. My parents joke that when I bring people home I should charge them for my tour.

Q: Last year you signed a record deal with Columbia. What’s the story on your album?
It’s like when you ask a writer, “Hey, so you’re writing a new book?” Yeah, always. There’s always something going on whether it’s tangible or concrete. It’s an ongoing process, always meeting with people. Songs are being worked on. yes, I’d love to put out something at some point soon. It’s always ongoing.

Q: You were only in H2S for three weeks. Would you consider going back?
It was the perfect amount of time. It was a blast. I never would have thought I’d be able to do something like that. It was so overwhelming and happened so fast. I knew it was going to be quick, so I was prepared for it to be mind blowing. It’s such a wonderful show. I was figuring out the character as I was going along, kind of like Finch, the character is doing has he goes along. In some ways, Broadway was imitating life.

[bonus videos]

A very brave Darren Criss answers all interview questions from Rolling Stone in song.

And here’s Criss performing for the Trevor Project (with Katy Perry).


Expect the Unexpected! ACT’s 2012 Season Gala starring Darren Criss and Bill Irwin is this Sunday, April 15, at the Regency Center, 1300 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco. Tickets are $500-$2,500. Call 415-439-2470 or visit www.act-sf.org/gala.

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