By Amrutha Sivakumar, Daily News Editor
Published June 14, 2013
Thursday morning started off with a bang as fans lined up in front of the Michigan Theater to attend a free concert featuring University alum Darren Criss and Theo Katzman — hosted by the Bank of Ann Arbor as a part of their annual Sonic Lunch series.
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Sonic Lunch is a free concert series during lunchtime to celebrate music within the Ann Arbor community. Currently in its sixth year, the event is held every Thursday from the beginning of June to the end of August.
Samantha West, marketing assistant at the Bank of Ann Arbor, said this would be Sonic Lunch’s biggest year. She said the concert was bank President Tim Marshall’s way to “provide a really cool, free, summertime activity for the people in our community.”
Criss approached the event coordinators — along with Katzman, a veteran Sonic Lunch performer — in hopes of performing in Ann Arbor. Although the concert was free for those who attended, “limited space and high demand” restricted the number of entrants.
“(Criss) was really excited about being a part of it,” West said. “It was really exciting and we were totally flattered that he wanted to come here”
Criss, a theatre performance major, began his career at the University when he founded musical theatre company StarKid Productions. Although he has gone on to star in Broadway musicals and play a lead role in the Emmy award-winning show "Glee," Criss credited his success to the University and wore a “Michigan” shirt to the show.
“This is one of my favorite institutions in the whole planet,” Criss said during the concert. “This (Michigan Theater) is one of the last of the great American theaters in this country.”
Michigan Theater CEO Russ Collins said the Michigan Theatre had a long history of hosting renowned individuals in the arts such as Criss and he was thrilled to have a band of University alumni play on their stage.
“It’s part of what we do here and it’s an exciting thing for what we do,” Collins said. “It’s nice when an artist like Darren Criss — who has a connection to the University of Michigan — comes back and can celebrate with fans and friends who have known him.”
The Sonic Lunch series is typically held at Liberty Plaza. However, due to his connection with the theater, Criss requested that he perform with Katzman in the Michigan Theater.
“We knew this (concert) was coming from the beginning of the season and so we were prepared for it and they were able to prepare for it,” Collins added.
Farmington resident Tania McCue said she attended the concert for the inspiration Criss’s performance provided. A tattoo on her arm read lyrics from Criss’s song “Not Alone” as a way of remembering how his music had helped her through tough periods in her life.
“I was going through a difficult time in my life, and I met people online who liked ‘Glee’ and who had gone through a similar experience,” McCue said. “Darren (Criss) and Chris Colfer are really inspirational and (Criss) seems like he’s really good to his fans.”