All The Stars Gather for Elsie

Emma Krupp

“Star studded” would be an understatement to describe the lineup for this year’s Elsie Fest, the annual Broadway outdoor music festival held in New York City.  On October 7, 2018, hundreds of fans gathered at the Summerstage in Central Park to enjoy a day of singalongs to their favorite Broadway tunes, pop songs, or to hear their favorite Broadway stars sing pop songs. The event was co-created and produced back in 2015 by Darren Criss, Ricky Rollins, and Jordan Roth.  Criss, best known for his critically acclaimed role of Blaine Anderson on the Fox musical drama TV show, “Glee”, had been in the spotlight long before his days at William McKinley High School. First catching the public eye, Criss wrote and acted in the production of “A Very Potter Musical” for a small theatre company in Chicago. He then went on to star in the 2012 revival of “How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying,” as well as the 2015 revival of “Hedwig and the Angry Itch.” Criss founded the festival as a media for different genres of music to merge and to raise money for Broadway Cares/ Equity Fights AIDS

elsie fest

This year, Criss surpassed expectations by creating an unforgettable night for fans. Headlining the event was Sutton Foster, two time Tony award winner for Best Performance By A Leading Actress in “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and “Anything Goes”. Criss himself performed a nine minute medley of his favorite pop hits; ranging from “Love Song” by Sara Bareilles to “American Idiot” by Green Day.  Even surprising the crowd, Nick Jonas joined Criss up on stage to help finish off his set. Special guests included Matthew Morrison, Criss’ famous teacher mentor on “Glee,” and Casey Cott, best known for his leading role on the CW’s “Riverdale.”  To tie up the night, Criss reappeared on stage to sing “Sincerely Me,” a song from the 2017 Best Musical, “Dear Evan Hansen,” with original cast member Will Roland as well as Grant Gustin. The fans went absolutely wild for the three friend’s energy to close the show.


Dubbed, “the Coachella of Broadway” by Darren Criss in an interview with Forbes, he hopes to see the festival grow in the next few years. “We use music festival, but it’s really a one-day big concert. Ideally I’d like to have it closer to a festival. Past few years have been, almost like in the Broadway model, an out of town tryout figuring out what works best. And as we’re growing we’re hoping we can get more investors in line and closer to our main vision, which is bigger space, more activations, more performers, multiple stages and maybe multiple days.”