On January 1, actor Daniel Radcliffe gave his last performance in the role of J. Pierrepont Finch in the Broadway revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and last night, on January 3, Glee actor Darren Criss took over the role. Criss will play the How to Succeed lead for the next 3 weeks while he takes a break from his Glee duties. Click below to see some photos and read some deets about Darren Criss‘s opening night as a Broadway star.
Success comes easily to Darren Criss. He might need a book to guide him as J. Pierrepont Finch, the lead role in Broadway’s “How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying,” but watching Criss’s career moves over the past year, it’s clear that he’s got an innate knoweldge of how to make it in his preferred profession, no reading required. His latest stop, Broadway, is no exception. Tuesday (Jan. 3) marked Criss’ takeover of the role from Daniel Radcliffe, who originated the character for the revival last spring. With two weeks of rehearsal over his holiday break to prepare him, Criss is getting a three-week vacation from his main job, “Glee,” to complete his limited run. The musical chronicles Finch’s calculated and meteoric rise to corproate and romantic success, a retro look at “Mad Men” culture set to song, and a show that’s less about a plot and more a showcase for a dynamic male lead, someone who can sing, dance and charm your pants off — qualities Criss has in spades. Criss’ shining moment was “I Believe In You,” where Finch sings a pep talk into his washroom mirror as he makes his climb to the top. The staging puts Criss on a platform at the front of the orchestra, close to the audience. Although he’s singing to himself, he manages to connect to the crowd and seems to tell them he believes in them, too. The other true test of his success in the role was how he’d fair for “Brotherhood of Men,” a number that pulls together all the key aspects of Finch — voice, charms and moves. Unfortunately Criss was vocally quiet throughout the show, either a function of a too-low mic or opening night jitters that prevented him from pushing himself to full volume. On “Glee” and as a solo act, Criss is more pop-rock than Broadway, and this show leaves little room for him to riff and settle into his comfort zone, sometimes leaving him startlingly soft in contrast to the rest of the chorus. Where in “I Believe In You” that quietness worked, in “Brotherhood of Man,” he needed just a bit more. However, he made up for any shortcomings with effortless dancing and striking charisma. The show then wound to a quick end, and Criss took his first Broadway bow to a standing ovation, mouthing his thanks at the crowd filled with family, friends and fans. Criss emerged to a mob at the stage door, who respectfully quieted down so he could shout his thanks to everyone within earshot before signing autographs … Aside from one well-intentioned (and luckily mostly drowned out by applause) “I love you, Darren,” and some tittering when Criss’s character jumped on furniture (akin to his “Glee” character Blaine last season), the vibe in the Al Hirschfield Theatre Tuesday was one of quiet reverence and palpable emotional investment in Criss, quite frankly, succeeding. On the whole he did — Finch’s character is a smooth fit for Criss, who oozes charm yet gets away without seeming calculated about it. Any bumps should be ironed out as he settles into the role.
We first learned that Darren Criss was in talks to take over for Radcliffe way back in June … and here we are all these months later. I was fortunate to see Daniel in How to Succeed last year and I thought he did a really fantastic job … he clearly loved the role. Here is video from Daniel‘s final curtain call Sunday night:
I just love DanRad. I have to say, tho, I think they did a great job choosing Darren Criss to take over the role, at least for a 3 week stint. The boy can sing and act … I’m sure he’ll be amazing in the role. After Criss‘s 3 week run is over (and he goes back to Glee), Nick Jonas will step into the role and take over permanently (or, until he ends his run and is replaced). Still … of these 3 guys, I am really glad that I was able to see Daniel Radcliffe in the role. Break a leg, Darren … have fun with the part!
[Photo credit: Wireimage; Source, Source]