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Everything can change in an instant, or a year of network television.
“It’s funny, I’ve been a theater kid all my life and you do one year of TV and suddenly you’re a ‘TV person,’” Darren Criss, the “Glee” sensation and current Broadway headliner said with a shrug at The Darby on Monday night during a party in his honor thrown by Calvin Klein Collection and The Peggy Siegal Co. The Meatpacking District lounge and restaurant was done up for the occasion as a blues club, complete with a peppy, friendly jazz quartet who could have passed for mature “Glee” extras and a lighting scheme heavy in deep reds and purples. Criss’ suit was sterling gray and perfectly tailored, set off by a pair of oversize black-rimmed spectacles that he perpetually pushed back on the bridge of his nose. The frames seemed to slip when he smiled, and he spent most of the evening with his face cracked in a wide, genuine grin.
Criss has just begun a three-week stint replacing Daniel Radcliffe as the star of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” (“Which is ironic, considering how hard I’m trying,” the actor laughed). A Broadway schedule, though grueling, is nothing compared to what the cast of “Glee” purportedly is put through.
“It’s apples and oranges,” the actor said. “I love them both. Theater is different, obviously — it’s all one take. But really…I am over the moon.”
Later, Criss took to the stage with a highball and an acoustic guitar for an audience that included Andrew Rannells, Susan Sarandon, Alan Cumming, Casey Spooner, Jordan Roth, Parker Posey and Mo Rocca.
“A long time before ‘Glee,’ I played in bars and restaurants, being a sort of background music, so it’s quite all right with me if you talk and chat,” he explained, though no one spoke.
Criss performed a brief set that included “Part of Your World,” from Disney’s “The Little Mermaid,” and “My Funny Valentine” and “Teenage Dream.”
The Katy Perry song was Criss’ first performance on “Glee.” He had initially been slotted only for a cameo role on the series, but its ascent on iTunes cemented his role on the show.
“That song really changed everything. It changed my life,” Criss explained after the performance, as he was besieged by fans.
Dick Latessa, the Tony-award-winning actor, stood by the doorway with some advice.
“Go hang on him and stare at a photographer, get a picture with him….He’s a star,” Latessa offered. “That’s all there is to it, kid.”