Broadway and Glee fans went wild at the news that Darren Criss would host the Broadway.com Audience Choice Awards on May 13, and the reviews are in: He was a hit, both personally and professionally. “Everyone is here to relax and have a good time and to celebrate something we’re lucky to have: the fans,” Criss said after the show. The handsome young star felt right at home singing musical tributes to the Best Actress nominees and poking fun at himself for his three-week run in How to Succeed. “I added some adjectives to the script that maybe otherwise would have been a little cleaner,” he said with a laugh.
Criss’ evening began on the red carpet, chatting with reporters who came out to cover the show, and he remained on the scene with his brother Chuck and other friends long into the night, happily posing for photos with guests, engaging in some lickable moments with Susan Blackwell (video to come!), showing off his award for Favorite Replacement and having fun with props in the Broadway.com photo booth.
Speaking of his Audience Choice Award, “I forgot it was even happening,” Criss says of entering the winners’ circle. “I was focusing on the songs I had to play, so yes, I was surprised [to win]. I was almost bummed that I went up to get it because I would have love to let Jackie Hoffman do it.” The host adored Hoffman’s politically incorrect “acceptance speeches” for actors who couldn’t attend the show. “She is a special lady, and I loved meeting her.”
Looking back on his Broadway musical debut, Criss’ favorite memories are “the little things: walking to work every day and realizing that I get to do this. For me, walking into an empty theater is a majestic, kind of religious experience, and to have that on a daily basis was my favorite moment. During breaks, when no one was around, I would take my guitar out and sit on the lip of the stage [of the Al Hirschfeld Theatre] and just sing out to nobody. It’s a very dear thing to me that I got to do that.”
Asked about the fourth season of Glee, Criss says, “As a fan, I look forward to seeing what happens between Blaine and Kurt [Chris Colfer]. It’s a very common thing when people in love go off to college and have to figure out what happens, so that journey interests me. But listen, I’m just glad to be back at all, so if they have me sitting in the back of the choir room all year, that sounds fine!
As usual, Criss is being too modest, but he has a clear vision of why his star has risen so fast in less than two years. “I wouldn’t be doing any of this if it wasn’t for the fans," he declares. "Even before Glee, Broadway fans have been very good to me.”