Broadway shows may go dark on Mondays, but many of the Great White Way's biggest stars still lit up the Jane Hotel Ballroom last night. Glee's former leading Dalton Academy Warbler, Darren Criss, along with the help of Bergdorf Goodman and Christian Louboutin, gathered his closest theater friends to celebrate his return to Broadway as the star of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Boldface Broadway names included Idina Menzel (pictured, above, with Criss), Andrew Rannells, and Corey Cott (who plays Vanessa Hudgens's love interest in Gigi). Paula Abdul, Saturday Night Live's Pete Davidson, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt's Tituss Burgess, and Criss's former Glee co-star Jane Lynch, stepped out, too.
Once everyone filtered into the hotel's dimly lit ballroom, they filed over to Criss (in Emporio Armani) one-by-one to offer congratulations, InStyle included. Criss told us he's thrilled to take on such an iconic role, previously played by Neil Patrick Harris, Michael C. Hall, and the founding Hedwig and writer of the cult-favorite musical, John Cameron Mitchell. "I was such a massive fan of the movie," Criss said.
What he really loves is the complete makeover he goes through every night on stage to get into the role of Hedwig, the glitzy, glam German rocker with a botched sex change operation. The wigs are a particular favorite. "Who doesn't like a good, fat, Tina wig? Any drag queen can tell you that," Criss said. "That's so much fun. When [Hedwig] puts it on in the show, it's this triumphant moment. It's infectious. The song 'Wig in a Box' is about how wigs can empower her and pull her out of these terrible places that she's in. That's what they do in real life. To literally and figuratively put on a wig really changes you."
Criss then went off to find Rannells and friends. A five-piece band jammed tunes in the background while guests moseyed to the side of the room to check out an installation on a staircase featuring men's Louboutin loafers. Upstairs, guests could pick up samples from the grooming line The Motley, of which Criss is a co-partner. (We chose one of the Face Saving Shave Formula bottles by Port Products for the hubs; $16, motley.com.)
Around 9:30 p.m., Criss took center stage to thank his pals for their support. With a drink in hand, he then performed three songs for the eager crowd—surprisingly, none of which were from Hedwig and the Angry Inch—tilting his head back and roaring emotion into the microphone. His set included covers of David Bowie's "Changes" and R. Kelly's "Ignition (Remix)." "I know you never expected to hear this song at the Jane Ballroom," he said. Maybe not, but the room loved it.
Darren Criss will star in Hedwig and the Angry Inch on Broadway through July 19th. Find tickets at telecharge.com.