Glee stars Lea Michele and Darren Criss completed the fourth stop on their spontaneous LM/DC Tour at the Kennedy Center this past Sunday. The two stars dazzled onstage, opening with “Broadway Baby,” an upbeat classic Broadway cover they sang on the show together, and ending with a heart-wrenching acoustic cover of Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love,” with originals and more Glee tunes in-between. Michele and Criss are far from done with the music scene, as evidenced by their show-stopping live performances. Their stop at the Kennedy Center was a first for the very excited and “nervous” Lea Michele, adding to the magic of the evening.
It’s safe to say that the singer/actress did not disappoint with her live performances that some of us have only ever dreamed of hearing her sing in person. I had goosebumps all over when she serenaded us with “Cannonball” from her first album Louder, which is about letting go of the past, overcoming fear and gaining confidence to start living the life you want. Michele channeled her inner pop star and got personal with the audience, telling us about moments of stage fright in past performances and how watching P!nk perform daring choreography to “Glitter in the Air” gave her inspiration to conquer her own fear of singing it live.
She had the crowd on their feet at the end of her signature cover of “Don’t Rain on My Parade,” which she sang at the 2010 Tony Awards. Her compelling voice echoed through the Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall, and hearing her belt Liza Minnelli’s “Maybe This Time,” Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” and “Edge of Glory,” and the soft but sweet “Run To You” from her 2017 Places album couldn’t have been more powerful. We’ve seen her hilarious wit and diva-esque charm on TV, and she brought them along with her electrifying solo star power to the DC stage.
With Michele’s set, the audience experienced ballads and glorious pop melodies, but with Darren’s set, fans heard dynamic folk-rock sounds from his originals along with his takes on pop covers. The consummate musician, he gave solo performances on both electric guitar and piano. He let his down-to-earth, spontaneous and laid-back personality show when he shared with the audience that he’s changing the set, and when he asked the band to go back to the bridge to redo one of the instrumental parts he was excited about. He was an open book for the audience – what more could a fan want?
His passion for music and love for his coheadliner remained very clear throughout the whole show. Since seeing him play a serial killer in the winter 2018 TV series The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, it was a breath of fresh air to see him in his musical element that most of us know and love from either watching him on Broadway in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and Hedwig and the Angry Inch or as the talented show choir leader Blaine Anderson on the beloved Glee. Criss took the crowd on a ride from some of our favorite Blaine moments like Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” and Young the Giant’s “Cough Syrup” to rocking out to a few of his originals from his EP Homework. I haven’t been able to get “Foolish Thing” – an upbeat folk-rock tune about falling in love – out of my head since Sunday’s show.
The pair really let their friendship shine through the music as they poked fun at each other onstage with funny asides between and during duets, and gave each other the utmost amount of praise during their own sets. By the sound of their enchanting harmonies and solid vocals, it’s clear that their musical history and chemistry translate outstandingly to the live stage. For fans of them as original artists or for fans who’ve followed them from the Glee glory days, it was a dream come true to see the two perform so many cherished favorites as well as hearing their passion for creating new and original music.
For more information and tour dates, visit www.lmdctour.com. Read more about Michele and Criss at www.leamichele.com and www.darrencriss.com, or follow them on social media @leamichele and @darrencriss.
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts: 2700 F St. NW, DC; 202-467-4600; www.kennedy-center.org