Exclusive! Team StarKid’s Joey Richter Talks Glee, Darren Criss, and Upcoming SPACE Tour
When it comes to making silly YouTube videos with friends, Joey Richter is definitely the type of guy who knows how to kick it up a notch!
During his sophomore year at the University of Michigan, Joey played the part of Ron in a 2009 spoof production called A Very Potter Musical, which he and pals — forming a group called StarKid Productions — later posted on YouTube.
Oh, and the guy who played Harry in their show? Some dude named Darren Criss (Blaine). Perhaps you’ve heard of him?
Wetpaint Entertainment spoke with Joey to see what life has been like for him and the rest of StarKid in the years since AVPM first took YouTube by storm. Plus, is Joey still close with his college pal Darren? (Hint: Yeah, maybe a little. They are housemates, after all.)
The YouTube fan base for A Very Potter Musical is very enthusiastic. In that show, Darren played Harry, and you were Ron. How did that musical come to be? It originally started almost as kind of a joke between a bunch of the writers, Nick and Matt Lang, Brian Holden, and Eric Kahn Gale. It started off as a series of jokes based off the books. [...] Darren wrote half of the songs and AJ Holmes, another one of the musicians and songwriters — who played the Heart in Me and My Dick — he wrote the other half of the songs. [...] Then after the show, we kind of didn’t think anything else of it. They edited the video together, made it so people could watch it and show their parents. But it was too tough to make all the DVDs, so we just said, Well, why don’t we just put it up on YouTube? That way everyone can get to show their parents. And it’s just — it’s all history from there.
Act I, Part I of the A Very Potter Musical has over 7.1 million views on YouTube. It’s pretty crazy.
Did you ever expect it would be that successful? Oh, no way. No way! The YouTube thing was just so that we could show our parents, we could show people that didn’t get to see the show and say, Hey, want to see this funny show that we did that people showed up to and thought was funny? Everything post-that has just been a series of reacting to the YouTube thing.
You graduated from the University of Michigan in Spring 2011. Where are you living, and what are you up to now? I graduated this past May. I’ve essentially done at least one StarKid show every year of college since sophomore year. The end of sophomore year was my first show. The beginning of junior year we did Me and My Dick, my junior year we did the [Very Potter] Sequel, and in the second semester of my senior year, I was commuting back and forth between Chicago and Ann Arbor to do Starship. [...] As soon as I graduated, I moved back to L.A., and I’ve been auditioning.
Now that you’ve graduated from college are living in L.A., do you see Darren very much? Do you guys hang out often? Yeah, I mean, I am one of his roommates. I see him almost every day when he gets home. The problem is, he’s a very busy dude. He’s a just busy guy.
Their Glee schedule does sound a little ridiculous! Their schedule is insane. He’s just constantly doing things: [...] filming, or going and showing up at photo shoots, or costume things. He’s starting rehearsals for How to Succeed. Then, at the beginning of December, when he’s done filming this half-season of Glee, he goes to New York and is there ‘til the end of January. This summer, when they were on tour, he’s gone for a couple of months. Imogene— he was only home like once a week. Yeah, he’s a busy guy.
Do you remember the first time you met in college? Do you remember what your first impression was of him? It was when I was in orientation for school, because he was staying over the summer. He was one of the theatre majors who was staying for the orientation to help with the new kids. It was one of those things where I was immediately like, I want to be friends with this guy. I definitely want to be friends with this guy.
And then the music thing, it’s funny that Darren now has this career in, like, in essentially doing covers of songs. It’s funny, because that’s just, like, really what Darren does. Darren is always the kind of guy who like has his guitar — and he’ll literally just have it and play it: Whether or not you want to hear it. Whether or not you’re listening. It’s playing in the background.
Do you remember the first time you saw Darren on Glee? Seeing him the first time was just so funny. Especially because, the last time I had seen him, he had his big mop of a hair. [...] He had definitely cut his hair since the last time I’d seen him and auditioned for the show and gotten the show, since I was already back in school by then. So seeing him with all the cut hair, just lookin’ — with his silly little jacket — it’s just, like, crazy.
“Teenage Dream” is one of my favorite songs in the past 10 years, easily. No joke. I’m not messing around. I really like this song. [...] Now, automatically, everyone thinks I like that song because Darren sang it on Glee. I’m like, No, I’ve loved that song forever. I’ve loved this song since the album came out! I thought his rendition of it was amazing. I got on board easily with The Warblers.
Would you ever want to be on Glee? If so, what sort of character would you want to play? I joke around and say that if I ever was on Glee, I’d want to play Blaine’s younger brother, who hates the glee club, and everyone needs to sing to him to convince him that the glee club’s cool. That’s just my own little joke. They’ll never write a part like that.
Going back to StarKid: You’ve been in all four of their shows, and had the leading role in two of them. Up next, StarKid is traveling around the country for what you guys are calling the SPACE tour. Can you tell us a little about that? The cast of the show consists of Joe Walker [Voldemort], me, Dylan Saunders [Dumbledore], Brian Holden [Lupin], Lauren Lopez [Draco], Jaime Lynn Beatty [Ginny] and Meredith Stepien [MegaGirl in Starship]. So that’s the performing cast. Then we have a band of four or five people. We have Charlene Kaye, who a lot of StarKid fans and Glee fans are fans of Charlene Kaye, too. Charlene Kaye is going on tour with us, to be in our band, and she’s opening for us in a lot of cities too, which is super-cool.
Are you guys pretty much sold out? I just got some numbers last night, I don’t know if they’ve changed, but we’d sold 14,000 tickets for the show. Totally crazy. We’ve been adding shows, because we’ve been selling out more shows.
Cool. So there are more tickets available, then? Oh yeah, there are a lot of tickets available for a lot of cities, especially cities that have more shows, I know a lot of tickets are available. Unfortunately, I know that both our New York shows at Irving Plaza are sold out, because Darren is going to be there.
Oh, neat! Yeah, he’s joining us for both of those shows, but those shows are both unfortunately sold out. [...] But there should be tickets at most places. I know Ann Arbor is sold out. But it’s one of those things where you could go on our website, TeamStarKid.com, and just check it out.
What made you want to go on tour? Last May, StarKid was invited to come onto two legs of The DigiTour, which is like a tour of YouTube performers. We were invited to join the tour for like two days. So we did that, and we had such a great time. After that, it was kind of implanted in everyone’s minds: We should do a tour. Why not? We have enough music. We don’t perform as often as we would like to. So, it gave everyone a great plan and a great opportunity to take advantage of the free time we had at this point, and the ability to just hop on a bus and go around. We’re working with Live Nation and they’ve been getting us some amazing venues: Like, we’re performing at Irving Plaza in New York. [...] It’s pretty crazy. It’s kind of insane.