EXCLUSIVE: The news is brimming with symbolism – the young actor who portrayed Harry Potter in viral online videos to step in for the actor who played the boy wizard on the big screen. I hear that Darren Criss, breakout star of Fox’s hit dramedy Glee, is poised to make his Broadway debut, succeeding Daniel Radcliffe as the lead in the Broadway musical How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying. Negotiations between Criss and the musical’s producers, Craig Zadan & Neil Meron and Broadway Across America, are expected to begin shortly after Glee co-creator/executive producer Ryan Murphy and the series’ producing studio 20th Century Fox TV gave Criss their blessing for the stint. (I hear Murphy even encouraged the actor, who made his processional stage debut at age 10, to fulfill his Broadway dream).
If a deal is made, Criss will replace Radcliffe when the Harry Potter star finishes his run on January to return to movies. Criss will do a 3-week stint, from Jan. 3 through Jan. 22, in addition to 2 weeks of rehearsals in December, missing a total of an episode and a half of Glee. Additionally, I hear that Criss may make his feature debut opposite Kristen Wiig and Annette Bening in Imogene for American Splendor helmers Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini as the Glee producers have agreed to accommodate him for that too the same way they have let other cast members do movies during Glee production, including Lea Michele, Matthew Morrison and Dianna Agron. This caps a remarkable 8-month rise for Criss from a YouTube celebrity as the star of A Very Potter Musical and A Very Potter Sequel to a bona fide TV star with Glee and now – a Broadway leading man. How To Succeed has already been doing very well at the boxoffice, grossing over a $1 million every week, with its ticket sales going through the roof since the recent opening of the final Harry Potter movie starring Radcliffe. With his huge following, Criss’ turn could rival that. Criss emerged as the star of this year’s Glee summer tour, with his performances getting huge ovations and screams from female fans. Along with other Glee castmates, Criss is headed to Comic-Con for a panel moderated by my colleague Michael Ausiello this weekend where the upcoming 3D Glee concert movie will be showcased by clips of some of Criss’ performances. As for How to Succeed, the search continues for a permanent replacement of Radcliffe as well as an actor to succeed fellow star John Larroquette.