Today we are tipping our top hats to three truly terrific triple-threats who have already carved out a name for themselves in theatre and the entertainment realm with their past associations with prior projects as diverse as EQUUS, GLEE, HAIRSPRAY, LES MIZ and, even, A VERY POTTER MUSICAL - none other than the current J. Pierrepont Finch in the currently-running smash hit revival of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Frank Loesser & Abe Burrows classic HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING, Daniel Radcliffe; as well as his soon-to-be successor in the lead role come the first week of the New Year, Darren Criss; and, then, just a few weeks later, comes former teen heartthrob and super-successful pop performer Nick Jonas. All three fresh-faced marquee names have had resounding success by rising to the top of the ranks in their respective roles through their participation in three of the most memorable and enduring entertainment entities of the last decade, covering the recording industry, television and Hollywood - the HARRY POTTER films, GLEE and The Jonas Brothers. While Daniel Radcliffe will leave big shoes to fill - or, more aptly: sprightly shoes - Darren Criss has proven with his charismatic work on GLEE that he is more than up to the titanic challenge; so, too, has Nick Jonas shown in both the 25th anniversary production of LES MIZ, and, more recently, as Link Larkin in the Hollywood Bowl HAIRSPRAY, that he has the mettle of a true musical theatre leading man. While we shall have to wait until January 3 to see if Criss can - and, then, February, to see if Jonas can - match Radcliffe tap for tap, topple for topple and song for song, perhaps spending some time taking a look back at some of their most impressive work up until now shall give us some clues as to what we can expect from them as they prepare to become Broadway babies all grown up into leading men.
Brotherhood Of Boys
Daniel Radcliffe may have not been the first name that many along Broadway would have assumed to be the heir apparent to the unforgettable originator of the Herculean central role - that of Robert Morse in HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING; Morse having taken on the leading role of J. Pierrepont Finch in both the original Broadway production and subsequent feature film - yet, Radcliffe proved naysayers more than merely wrong with his fetching and fearless essaying of the deceptive and difficult part. While he has grown even more in the role and his sweet and sonorous but admittedly low-wattage singing has improved even further in the many months since the opening night at the Al Hirschfeld Theater, it is his physicality and overall musical comedy sensibility that will undoubtedly be the most challenging for Darren Criss and Nick Jonas to adapt to their own personalities. Rob Ashford will most likely be tailoring the role to the strengths of Radcliffe’s successors and the least of troubles for both Criss and Jonas should be the vocals given their past work on the musical stage and in the recording studio, as well as elsewhere on the concert stage and beyond. So, let us now take a cursory view of the best that the internet has to offer insofar as the musical and theatrical highlights of the careers of Daniel Radcliffe, Darren Criss and Nick Jonas.
More than virtually any other actor of his generation, Daniel Radcliffe has ensconced himself in the homes of millions of parents and children alike worldwide with his own puberty-spanning turn as Harry Potter in the seven films based on the J. K. Rowling mega-sensation of a novelistic series and grown up before our very eyes. His scandalous and controversial decision to take on the lead in a revival of EQUUS - complete with nude scenes and implied horse copulation - provoked much furor in the press, both when he starred in the play in its originAl West End revival and, then, in that production's Broadway iteration - both co-starring Richard Griffiths. So, the least likely next stage role would seem to be in a frothy musical comedy, right? Right...
View footage of the disturbing and dark EQUUS by Peter Shaffer below.
To give a sense of the pandemonium that accompanied Radcliffe’s exit from the stage door each at night at EQUUS - both in the West End and on Broadway - sample this fan-shot video from after a performance in the West End.
Next, check out this extensive clip of Daniel Radcliffe discussing his work in the Broadway revival of HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING and performing “Brotherhood Of Man” with members of the revival cast. It is clear to see and hear here that he loves what he does!
For comparison’s sake, here is a clip from 2002 - almost ten years before his Broadway bow - featuring the then-near-pubescent cast - Emma Watson and Rupert Grint included - of HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS, also on THE VIEW. How time - and wizards - fly!
Bringing HARRY POTTER to its inevitable conclusion, here is the trailer for the most recent and final HARRY POTTER film, HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 2, starring Radcliffe.
Closing out the Radcliffe component of today’s consideration of the stars of the Broadway revival of HOW TO SUCCEED, here are Robert Morse and the last revival’s lead, Matthew Broderick (who won a well-deserved Tony Award for his work), introducing Radcliffe, along with that night’s Featured Actor In A Musical Tony-winner John Larroquette and other members of the cast in the showstopper, “Brotherhood Of Man”.
Doing the near-impossible from the very outset of his blazing first blast of sound and fury signifying everything by way of his incomparably impressive version of Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” on GLEE - a star being born in the process - Darren Criss has defied the odds and followed his musical theatre sensibility from humble and impressive YouTube videos of Alan Menken songs all the way to producing his own musicals - such as, incidentally, two musicals done in an homage to HARRY POTTER; A VERY POTTER MUSICAL and A VERY POTTER SEQUEL - to his star-making turn on GLEE - which is still, of course, ongoing - and, now, his official establishment in the Broadway firmament with his first leading role on the Great White Way. He can do it all, as these clips clearly prove, so, come January 3, we’ll definitely see if he can do it all consistently, eight times a week!
First, no Criss consideration would be complete without a look at his very first YouTube videos, so, here is a particular fan favorite - his exceptionally unique “Part Of Your World”, taken from THE LITTLE MERMAID.
Showing how Darren’s career has undoubtedly already come quite full-circle, here he is serenading Alan Menken and duetting with Lea Salonga herself on a medley of tunes from Menken’s many notable Disney films - THE LITTLE MERMAID, ALADDIN and NEWSIES included - from a few weeks ago.
Next, here is an interview with Darren conducted at the premiere of HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS - starring Daniel Radcliffe - where he discusses his affection for the HARRY POTTER franchise and also talks about GLEE.
Don’t miss Darren Criss singing one of the most marvelous musical theatre songs ever written - “Something’s Coming” from WEST SIDE STORY - in this version just recently performed on GLEE that had its world premiere on BroadwayWorld earlier this year.
While his first musical foray into the world of Katy Perry was a sensational success, so, too, was Darren’s most recent take on one of her huge #1 songs. So, lastly, here is “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)”.
Acting as one-third of the international musical sensation known as The Jonas Brothers, Nick Jonas could have easily lived off of his laurels and continued the concert route for the foreseeable future, yet he has displayed a fierce devotion to making his musical theatre dreams come true since the band’s semi-dissemination a few years ago. Believe it or not, Nick Jonas has actually played a featured role on Broadway before - that of Gavroche in the Broadway revival of LES MISERABLES, co-starring none other than future GLEE lead, Lea Michele - so, his HOW TO SUCCEED lead role is actually a return, not a debut. In any event, whatever Nick does will be highly anticipated by his legions of fans worldwide.
Taken from an audience capture of the closing night performance from 2003, here is Nick Jonas performing “Little People” with the rest of the Broadway revival cast.
Nick discusses transitioning from playing Gavroche in the Broadway revival of LES MISERABLES to taking on Marius in the 25th anniversary concert performance, available on Blu-ray, and, also, he discusses the West End versus Broadway and their respective audiences.
Watch Nick Jonas in the superbly shot and wonderfully sung 25th anniversary production of LES MIZ singing “A Little Fall Of Rain” with Samantha Banks here.
With one of the most emotional moments from LES MIZ, here is Nick singing the plaintive and heart-wrenching “Empty Chairs At Empty Tables”.
Finally, here is Nick Jonas in the recent Hollywood Bowl production of HAIRSPRAY in which he played Link Larkin - a role originated on Broadway by GLEE star Matthew Morrison - as introduced by John Stamos, singing "It Takes Two". What a riff on "Avalon"!
So, which new Broadway hoofer are you most looking forward to seeing in the energetic and lively revival of HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING - Darren Criss or Nick Jonas? Whoever does best, Daniel Radcliffe will be very difficult to better, for sure!