Since his breakout role as choir singer Blaine Anderson in the global phenomenon 'Glee', Darren Criss has proven himself to be one of the most diverse and versatile performers of his generation.
He wowed audiences and critics with his performances in Broadway hits, 'Hedwig And The Angry Inch' and 'How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying', before reuniting with 'Glee' Creator Ryan Murphy on the gripping but polarising, 'The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story'; where he starred alongside Penelope Cruz, Edgar Ramirez, and Ricky Martin.
Criss’ portrayal of Versace’s real-life killer, Andrew Cunanan, earned him both a Prime Time Emmy and Golden Globe Award.
However, despite all the places his career has taken him thus far, from Hollywood to Broadway, one destination Criss has been hanging out to return to is Australia. Now, five years after a whirlwind visit, where his solo Sydney show sold out in eight minutes, Criss is back with a tour that will see him cross between musical genres and his career highlights. From Broadway showtunes to 'Glee' hits, to his own original songs and work from his early StarKids MySpace days.
“Australia has always been a huge supporter of all the whacky sh.t that I’ve involved myself with over the past decade and they’re honestly one of the loudest and first and foremost groups of supporters that I’ve had since day one,” Criss explains over video call. “As many Australians and Americans know it’s f...ing far, and it takes a lot to get over there. . . The last time I was there it kind of broke my heart because it was so quick. I did a really tiny thing because I was there doing something else at the time, but I was like 'I’m already in Australia, I have to play a show'.”
Image © Lindsey Byrnes
“While it’s a massive show and a massive continent, one show in Sydney does not cover the whole spectrum of cities and people in Australia, but it was a very short teaser trailer, where I was like 'as soon as I can make another trip work, I am going to do this', and so finally, there was an opening and an availability.”
With an eclectic musical catalogue under his belt and the time between tours, Criss assures fans that his upcoming tour will be a celebration of his career thus far and include tracks from various projects – whether it’s his original music, 'Glee' chart-toppers or Broadway showtunes. “I am fully aware that the things I have been involved with are wildly eclectic and I’m really proud of that, but I am aware that it can be confusing to people, so ideally for my shows I try and give something to everybody,” Darren says. “There are things I’ve done in the TV world that people would like to hear, which I love to do, there are things that I’ve done in the Broadway world that if I didn’t do, people would be upset and there’s songs of mine that I’ve done that I know people are coming for.”
“Thank God for the very diverse ear that modern audiences have. We are a playlist culture. It’s no longer strange to have so many different genres existing in one place. In fact, we celebrate it! So that is somewhat in my favour, and that’s kind of what the shows will be.”
Considering his extensive catalogue, Criss insists that no two shows will be the same, and he’ll be adding a few surprises.
“One set is not like the other, I tend to do a new song for every place that I’m in. What I intend to do, is I try to play a song that reminds me of a place or what’s going on. It’s spontaneous and I usually play it right before going on stage. Australia is ripe with artists and bands that I’ve always loved, so getting an excuse to tip my hat to any number of those incredible artists is exciting to me.”
Criss remained tight-lipped as to what surprises he had in store, but listed Silverchair, AC/DC, Empire Of The Sun, Cut Copy, The Vines, and Tame Impala as some of his favourite Australian acts.
In addition to his love for Australian music, the Emmy Award-winner, who considers himself a foodie, is eagerly excited to explore the Australian food scene during his downtime. “The last trip [in 2018] was so quick and it’s so cliché but I wanted to hang out with koalas and kangaroos, so I made sure that happened. I was only in Sydney, so it was chockfull of brekkie sandos, good coffee, and I did get to hang out with kangaroos and koalas. I got to hang out on the boat in the bay there and it was a very charmed few days in Sydney and it reminded me a lot of where I’m from in San Francisco. . . And I also had really good Chinese food.”
This time around, Criss is excited to explore the other cities on his national tour. “That’s one of the great joys of touring, besides getting to connect with people you’re across the globe from, you’re connecting with a culture.”
“I’m also a cultural foodie and I know the food scene in Melbourne is amazing so I’m excited to get my hands on some of that. . . I also never drank coffee in my whole life, so I’ve only recently started getting into a good espresso and I know Australians are no stranger to a good coffee and a proper brekkie sando.”
And while Criss is excited to explore more during his time down under, his true excitement is to be on stage performing in front of his loyal Aussie fans.
“My whole driving ethos is trying to shorten the distance between me and other people in the ways I can, and I want to make sure people feel as connected with each other as humanly possible,” he says. “Through music, through storytelling and through language, whether it’s performative or not – that’s something that I always strive to do and doing that in person is the best way.”
“With film and television, you can still do that, but there’s degrees of separation and yet you can reach millions more people, but there’s nothing that can replace live communion and concerts. That’s something that I’ll always sprint towards, and I’m just so excited to be there in Australia. I’ve wanted to play shows there forever.”
Darren Criss 2023 Australia Tour Dates3 September – Adelaide Festival Theatre
4 September – Canberra Theatre Centre
5-6 September – Arts Centre Melbourne
7 September – Theatre Royal (Hobart)
11-12 September – City Recital Hall (Sydney)