‘Listen Up’!: Darren Criss headed on tour this summer

The "Listen Up" promotional image.

The “Listen Up” promotional image.

Starkids and Gleeks alike will have a chance to see Criss when he hits the open road to headline his very own tour.

Criss announced earlier this week that he has begun working on a new full-length album and fans will have the opportunity to hear them live beginning in May.

Criss will visit sixteen cities across the country and treat patrons to a variety of “Darren favorites” (including Glee covers, Starkid and 2010 EP Human originals), as well as new tunes from May 29 to June 30.

Facebook pre-sale tickets go on sale today and general tickets and VIP packages can be purchased starting April 27.  Check out darrencriss.com for more info about the Listen Up… ‘13 tour, as well as a special message from Criss himself!

Criss is a member of a new generation of Hollywood that started his career on YouTube before landing a recurring role on Glee, one of the most popular television series on TV, and debuting a successful limited run on Broadway. Although he is most recognizable for his role as Blaine Anderson on Glee, the San Francisco native has been singing and dancing for much longer.  While studying at the University of Michigan, Criss took advantage of YouTube to create a cozy song cover atmosphere—just his voice, a guitar, and some classic Disney lyrics (he does a pretty awesome version of the Duck Tales theme song).

YouTube proved to be most powerful to Criss during the summer of 2009 when he and his Michigan friends uploaded A Very Potter Musical, a show inspired by the Harry Potter series. Criss lent his curly brown locks (which have since been tamed for TV) to the title role and worked with A.J. Holmes (Young Frankenstein Natl. Tour, Next to Normal, Arizona Theatre Company) to fill Hogwarts with original music and lyrics. The group of friends, now known as Starkid Productions, turned their love of the wizarding world into a musical sensation, one that paved the way for two Potter sequels, three original musicals (the latest currently in early production stages), two national tours, and 1.5 million video views (nearly ten million of them belonging to A Very Potter Musical).

Riding the coattails of his television success, Criss made his official entry into the “Brotherhood of [Broadway],” replacing Daniel Radcliffe as J. Pierrepont Finch in How to Success in Business Without Really Trying in January 2012. His time was limited, as he only appeared at the Al Hirschfield Theatre for three weeks.

Perhaps even more appealing than his ability to sing and act is Criss’s humility and “kid at heart” persona.  Watch a handful of YouTube videos from coffee house gigs and you’re bound to hear him forget the lyrics (yes, his own, original lyrics) at least twice.  My favorite thing about watching him live is how he laughs at himself; with the shaking of his head and rolling of his eyes, he asks audience members, “Wait, how does that part go?” and keeps playing.  “He’s still Darren,” as fellow Michigan alumni said after seeing him on TV.  He was humbly honored at the opportunity to perform for the President and thought it was awesome to sing with Kermit the Frog on live television.  I’m with him on that one—it doesn’t get much cooler than Rainbow Connection and everyone’s favorite green Muppet. All of the Potter musicals weren’t about making money or finding fans; it was about a bunch of friends who loved singing, acting, and fart jokes (as co-Starkid founder Nick Lang said in one YouTube video).  Hopefully we’ve all had that group of friends, the people we create and explore, dream and grow with, our very own “Starkids.” Deep down at the root of it all, Darren Criss is just what his EP title suggests: human.

So will you be heading out to see Darren in his first ever headlining tour? What songs are you most excited about hearing live? Do you have a favorite Darren memory or remember when you first became a fan? Let us know below and keep us posted about your “Listen Up” experiences!

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