In the spring of 2009, four performances of an original work were staged by a group of friends in the Basement Arts theater at the University of Michigan. Those actors, writers, and musicians had a hit on their hands and went on to form StarKid, staging four more Internet-only original musical parodies.
Three years later, that show, “A Very Potter Musical,” recorded at Basement Arts, has played on YouTube nearly 9 million times.
And in total, Starkid’s work — traditional musical theater performed in front of a live audience only often enough to capture it on video in a three-camera sitcom setting — has been seen online a staggering 125 million times. Its cast recording charted on Billboard.
Three years later, Darren Criss, who played Harry Potter in “AVPM” and its sequel long before he got the role of Blaine on “Glee,” is sitting in his car in the driveway outside his Los Angeles home. He is trying to explain how a theater troupe without its own theater is on a 21-city concert tour — including a stop Saturday at Boston’s House of Blues — even though the performers are actors by trade and not singers.