The ‘Magic’ Origins of Darren Criss
To most people, Darren Criss is best known as one of the breakout stars from the hit TV show Glee His character, Blaine, began his fictional life as a supporting and temporary side character meant to help the character of Kurt deal with coming out and moving to a new school. The popularity of Criss’s character, however, and his relationship with Kurt quickly led to the role becoming a full-time staple of the show. And with that, of course, came more exposure for Blaine’s actor—Darren Criss.
But Darren Criss was not always a popular television actor who snags roles on Broadway and sings with some of the most popular singers in the world. The origins of Darren Criss are, like so many other actors before him, rather humble.
Criss began performing at an early age and took violin lessons for 15 years. When he was just 10 years old, he was accepted into the American Conservatory Theater Young Conservatory Program, where he studied acting and continued to study and play musical instruments. He composed his first song when he was only 15 years old.
After high school, Criss attended the University of Michigan and graduated in 2009 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a major in theater performance and a minor in musicology and the Italian language.
It was in 2009 that Criss became a YouTube sensation. Along with various friends from the University of Michigan Criss helped write and starred in an unofficial musical parody of Harry Potter. The show, titled A Very Potter Musical, was performed for University of Michigan Students. The show was recorded by the student-based theater company and put on YouTube for posterity. The show quickly became an internet sensation, reaching over a million hits in a matter of days, and its popularity led to the forming of “Starkid Productions,” of which Criss was at the helm. Criss, who played Harry Potter in the parody musical, quickly gained a fan base that arguably led to him being considered for the role of Blaine on Glee.
Criss went on to star in two more Harry Potter musicals from the Starkid Production company including the fully staged A Very Potter Sequel in 2010 and the last Harry Potter musical for the company, A Very Potter Senior Year, which premiered as a staged reading due to the schedules of the actors in 2012.