Fans of the Emmy-nominated Darren Criss have known this for a while, but everyone else is quickly catching on. The man is a theatrical powerhouse and this year, he is certainly making his mark on the Great White Way.
Having already appeared in an industry reading of a new musical based on 17 Again back in March, he went on to blow us away as the tragic transgender East Berlin rocker Hedwig in a 12-week run of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Never one to rest on his laurels, though currently filming a movie in the Italian alps, he also eagerly preparing for Elsie Fest – a “Coachella for showtunes” that he has helped organise and will appear at next month. Now he’s signed on for another special Broadway appearance.
Yesterday (August 21), it was announced that Criss would be joining an all-star line up for a special one-night-only benefit reading of Moisés Kaufman’s Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde. The play, which gained notoriety earlier this year for being banned by the Kremlin, is a dramatisation of court transcripts from the 1895 prosecutions of Wilde, who was accused of homosexuality.
Described as having “a cast that puts the star into star-studded,” the reading will be headed up by Lost’s Michael Emerson (playing Wilde) and Hamilton’s Jonathan Groff (Wilde’s lover Bosie). This is Emerson’s second time round as Wilde, having played the Irish playwright/novelist/poet in the original 1997 production at the Minetta Lane Theatre.
Also appearing are Sally Field, Tituss Burgess, fellow Hedwig Michael C. Hall, David Hyde Pierce, Tony Kushner, Judith Light, David Burtka, Andy Mientus, Jose Llana, Will Carlyon and Jake Shears. And that’s not the complete cast, with further announcements to be made over the coming weeks. That’s some major star-power, influence and gravitas right there.
The benefit reading came about following the thwarting of a revival of the play in Moscow by Kaufman, Tectonic Theater Project, the Moscow New Drama Theatre and the U.S. State Department by the Russian government due to its LGBTQ content and the use of foreign funds for artistic productions. Undeterred, Kaufman and Tectonic Theater Project decided to put on the benefit reading in NYC to draw attention to the treatment of the LGBTQ community in Russia and the many violations of their rights being committed by their government every day.
In a statement, Kaufman called Russia’s treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people “an abomination.” “The Kremlin’s refusal to allow Gross Indecency to be performed in Moscow is but the tip of the iceberg. By doing this benefit reading we hope to bring attention to our brothers and sisters in that country and in all the other countries where atrocities are being committed.”
Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde will be performed at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater on October 5. Tickets range from $50-$1,000 and are currently on sale now.
All funds raised will benefit Tectonic Theater Project and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.