When they met nearly a decade ago on the set of the Fox series, “Glee,” actors Lea Michele and Darren Criss became fast friends. And even after the show ended in 2015, the two maintained a tight bond that continues to this day.
Now, the friends are hitting the road for the LM/DC Tour, coming to the Durham Performing Arts Center June 30.
For Michele, working with Criss again makes the challenges of being on the road for a lengthy tour a bit easier to navigate.
“It’s really amazing to work together, honestly,” she says. “Darren and I obviously became friends on ‘Glee,’ but we’ve remained friends outside that experience — we hang out, we have dinner together, we know each other’s families. So to be working with him again is so great because he feels like my brother — it’s like having a member of my family with me. Touring can be lonely, and to have that comfort is unbelievable.”
Playing the roles of Rachel Berry and Blaine Anderson on “Glee,” Michele and Criss collaborated on several memorable songs, including a kinetic performance of the 1980s Human League classic “Don’t You Want Me.” The two draw on that obvious stage chemistry in their show.
“I think we complement each other very well,” Michele says. “But we do have different performance styles — Darren is a little more spontaneous, whereas I’m a little bit more structured. But when we come together it really works. Our voices really complement each other, too.”
The show features Michele and Criss performing together and separately, singing songs from their solo projects as well as — yes, Gleeks — songs from “Glee.”
“We have a lot of our most popular songs we did together on ‘Glee’ and some of our most notable songs from our solo records,” Michele says. “And we’ll also do some Broadway songs because we’ve both been on and love Broadway.”
Both Michele and Criss got their starts on Broadway before finding mainstream stardom via “Glee.” Michele starred as young Cosette in “Les Miserables” on Broadway at age 8; Criss got his start playing Harry Potter in “A Very Potter Musical.” That experience in the theater influences this tour, which favors smaller venues that allow the two to better interact with the audience.
“We really want to make an experience for our fans that feels like they are just hanging out with Darren and me for a night,” Michele says. “When you perform in smaller venues and not these huge arenas, it creates a more intimate vibe. We’re telling personal stories and there’s banter with the audience — we want them to feel connected, and these venues create that.”
Michele and Criss will have plenty to talk about this tour. Both recently announced engagements — Michele in April to Zandy Reich and Criss in January to longtime girlfriend Mia Swier. Michele says that shared joy makes this tour especially sweet for the longtime friends.
“It’s all really unbelievable,” she says. “I feel so fortunate — it’s an exciting time in my life, and I feel incredibly blessed and grateful to be able to do this tour.”
What: LM/DC Tour with Lea Michele and Darren Criss
When: 8 p.m., June 30
Where: Durham Performing Arts Center, 123 Vivian St., Durham