It is becoming almost redundant to state that this year was even bigger and better for Darren Criss (the man just continues to impress and deliver such amazing work across all creative pursuits), but 2018 has certainly been one of the best for any Darren fan, long-timers like us here at 4YE or those who have only recently discovered Mr Criss. From his award-winning performance as Andrew Cunanan in Ryan Murphy’s The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, to new music, a whole slew of concerts across North America, Australia, and the UK and Ireland, to landing a new movie, it’s been difficult to keep pace with all the goodness we’ve been given. And somewhere in amongst all that he got engaged and opened his LA piano bar Tramp Stamp Granny’s with fiancée Mia Swier and Danny Massare (definitely pay it a visit. I had a great night there in November).
Let’s look back at just some of the headlines from Darren Criss’ totally awesome year.
The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
— Darren Criss (@DarrenCriss) May 24, 2018
This time last year we were eagerly anticipating the premiere of the second season of American Crime Story, watching and rewatching the teaser trailers and marvelling at the glimpses we got of Darren’s performance. Little did we know how extraordinary it would truly be. Premiering in January, the limited series was a true acting tour de force not only from Darren but all involved. Darren’s range and ability to make the viewer feel compassion for and relate to Cunanan was (at times) a terrifying joy to watch. The many resulting acting nods (Emmy, Golden Globe, Critics Choice, SAG just to name a few) were hardly surprising and so well-deserved. His Emmy win in September (his first) is no doubt his first of many awards that will be announced in the new year. Revisit the wonderful series and check out our recaps.
At the beginning of April, Darren and his Glee co-star Lea Michele announced that they were taking to the road and bringing a mix of their Glee hits, their solo work and some Broadway classics to North America. The first leg of the tour began in Nashville on May 30 and took in 13 US East Coast cities and Toronto, Canada. The second leg in October and November visited eight cities on the West Coast. The pair then took the tour across the pond with six shows in November and December in Ireland, England and Scotland. Check out our review from the Durham, NC stop.
Intimate Evenings with Darren Criss
The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story also brought with it a couple of one-off intimate experiences for fans as Darren travelled the globe promoting the series. In April, while doing press in London, Darren performed a one-night acoustic performance in St Pancras Church. This was followed up by a Live & Intimate evening with Darren Criss in Sydney’s Eternity Playhouse in May – Darren’s only concert on his first visit to Australia. Despite only giving fans a few days notice before tickets went on sale, both shows sold out within seconds. Performing with just a string quartet allowed Darren’s talent as well as skill in holding an audience captivated for 90 minutes to shine through. Like his set from the LM/DC Tour, he performed a mix of Glee hits, Starkid tracks, his solo/Computer Games material and some Broadway standards. The Sydney show was certainly one of the highlights of my year. You can check out my review here.
Following the enormous critical and fan success of American Crime Story, many were wondering what project Darren would take on next. We had some months to wonder as it was only announced in September that he was joining an all-star cast in Independence Day’s Roland Emmerich World War II epic, Midway. Centred around the Battle of Midway, a key battle in the US war against the Japanese, Darren will star alongside Woody Harrelson, Patrick Wilson, Ed Skrein, Aaron Eckhart, Luke Evans, Mandy Moore, Dennis Quaid, and Nick Jonas. Darren plays Commander Eugene Lindsay, who was awarded the Navy Cross for his role in the battle. Filming took place towards the end of the year. Midway is slated for release on November 9, 2019.
Elsie Fest Year 4
October 7 saw Broadway fans descend one again on Central Park’s Summerstage for the 4th annual Elsie Fest. Headlining this year along with Darren were Sutton Foster, Joshua Henry and Alex Newell, with special guest performances from Rufus Wainwright, Grant Gustin, Matthew Morrison, Casey Cott and Jodi Benson. Elsie Fest has certainly found a home on the Broadway summer calendar with fans travelling from around the world to attend the festival. Who knows who will pop up for the 5th anniversary in 2019?!
As with last year when Darren gifted us with a recording of “I Dreamed A Dream”, this year’s Elsie Fest announcement was marked with the release of his version of “One Fine Day”. A staple from his concerts, it was fantastic to get studio version of this classic song.
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2018 was relatively quiet for this little retro 80s-inspired band Darren formed with his brother Chuck last year. They travelled to Mexico over the Easter break for a series of sold out concerts in Mexico City. While they had teased new music from the band throughout the year, it was only in November that they released a new track, “She Just Laughed Because My Joke Lacked Comic Timing”. Written by Chuck more than 10 years ago, the song continues in the same fun, pop-electronic feel of their first EP Lost Boys Life. This is a song you can’t help but smile and bop along to any time you hear it. We are definitely hoping to hear more from Computer Games in 2019.
With the Golden Globes, Critics Choice and SAG awards over the new few months, a new movie set for later in the year, and no doubt plenty of surprise gigs, music releases and appearances around the world, the upward trajectory that Darren Criss’ career has travelled in 2018 is sure to continue into 2019. His fans are definitely looking forward to what the new year will bring, as are we here at 4YE.