I Really Tried to Like Darren Criss
It wasn’t entirely Darren Criss’s fault. But most of it was.
Last night I saw Darren Criss and Beau Bridges in Broadway’s How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. It was unfortunate.
Finch arrives down onto the stage on rope, and immediately it sounds like an N*SYNC concert. Which is problematic, seeing as this is live theatre that I paid good money to see.
The opening number is…rough, this is because of Darren flopping around on stage with no vocal support and no acting chops. The scenery and costumery is phenomenal, but the dancing seemed off. It was well synchronized, but basic and certainly did not fit the tone of the song or the era.
I don’t want to completely crush Darren. I really wanted him to be fantastic and thought it was a good role for him. His voice just wasn’t there. He certainly warmed up (which should not happen. He should be on since step one), and some notes were very well supported, but for the most part he was airy and it was almost like he was trying too hard to sound good. So we could barely hear him.
Beau Bridges at least had the sense to give up on sounding good and just graveled his way through.
Bridges and Criss were pretty much talking past each other. It’s as though they were working so hard to remember their lines, that they just didn’t pay attention to one another. Neither know how to wait for applause or laughter, so a lot of lines were lost. The Old Ivy scene had me genuinely wishing I had seen Daniel Radcliffe in the role. He most likely nailed it.
Many reviews had said that Darren was more of an actor and dancer who could sing rather than a singer and actor who could dance. But he didn’t dance very well either. I imagine much of that was the result of lazy choreography. A 5th grade tap recital could have covered the show quite well.
This isn’t to say the rest of the cast wasn’t amazing. Rosemary was the first to sing other than Finch, and she blew me away. Bud was fantastic and stole every scene he was in. Beau Bridges reminded me of the head elf in the original Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer movie. Or maybe Blitzen teaching the tiny reindeer how to fly.
The worst part was easily all of the Darren Criss fans. I watch Glee, not for the show, because it’s terrible, but because I love the cast, Darren included. But god damn, I wish those girls would shut up. They can be broken down into the following groups:
1)The Starkid- Wearing pink sunglasses. Inside. During a Broadway show.
2)The Very Potter Music Kid- Wearing a Gryffindor hat, scarf, and tie. Inside. During a Broadway show.
3)The Gleek- These can also be called Warblers (the singing group Darren’s character was originally in before switching to a crappy public school for his boyfriend). They are wearing tuxedo-esque school uniform tshirts (think “what Weird Al would wear to a wedding) and a homemade scarf and hat. Inside. During a Broadway show.
These fans also screamed anytime Darren did anything, did not pay attention to scenes he wasn’t in or spoke over lines that weren’t his, ate junior mints, snowcaps, and peanut M&Ms like they were in a movie theatre (but worse), and left before the show was over to stage door.
The problem with this was that A)they left before the show was over and B)they missed the spectacular fail that was “Brotherhood of Man,” the final song. I had seen Daniel Radcliffe perform this number on various late night talk shows. He was great. Darren was not. His voice had been weak the whole show through, but now it was just tired. His dancing was lazy, also because he was tired, and most likely winded. The choreography was decent, but not impressive. The audience was impressed anyway. I was impressed by the woman being thrown back and forth while hitting strong high Fs. They were impressed that Darren Criss can do a somersault with assistance.
I’m not sure what I was expecting. Darren is known for a terrible TV show and Youtube videos. In his biography, he thanked Glee’s exec producer, whom he referred to as “Baroness.” I really wanted this to work. I chose to see him instead of Daniel Radcliffe, as I’d seen him in Equus.
Andy Cooper’s voice overs gave me life, but the tight spots on Darren were lackluster.
Otherwise, the sets were the best and it’s nice to be back here blogging.