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Darren Criss and Helen J. Shen to star in new Broadway musical ‘Maybe Happy Ending’

Michael Arden will direct.

(L-R) Darren Criss and Helen J. Shen (Credit: Bruce Glikas/WireImage; Julianna McGuirl)

A unique new musical is headed to Broadway. “Maybe Happy Ending,” the story of a pair of helperbots who fall in love, will arrive at the Belasco Theatre this fall. Tony Award winner Michael Arden will direct the production, which will star Emmy Award winner Darren Criss and newcomer Helen J. Shen. Previews are scheduled to begin on Sept. 18 ahead of an opening night set for Oct. 17.

Featuring a book co-written by Broadway first-timers Will Aronson and Hue Park, with music by Aronson and lyrics by Park, “Maybe Happy Ending” is set in late 21st century Seoul, as two obsolete helperbots (played by Criss and Chen) discover each other. They develop a surprising connection that challenges what they believe is possible for themselves, relationships and love. The mounting will also feature Dez Duron of “The Voice” in his Main Stem debut in the role of Gil Brentley. Originally seen onstage in a Korean-language version in Seoul, South Korea, “Maybe Happy Ending” made its U.S. English-language debut in a production with Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre, directed by Arden, in 2020.

“Maybe Happy Ending” will mark a return to Broadway for Criss, most recently seen onstage as Bobby in “American Buffalo.” His other Main Stem credits include a turn in the title role of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” and a performance as J. Pierrepont Finch in “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” He won an Emmy for his portrayal of Andrew Cunanan in “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” and was seen as Blaine Anderson on “Glee.”

Shen, currently appearing as JJ in Off-Broadway’s “The Lonely Few,” was recently seen as “Promise Keeper Girl Keke” in Off-Broadway’s “Teeth.” A 2022 graduate of the University of Michigan’s BFA program, Shen’s other stage credits include regional turns in “Sunset Boulevard,” “Hair, “Dogfight,” “Mamma Mia!” and “Sweet Charity.” “Maybe Happy Ending” will mark their Broadway debut.

This musical will be the first Broadway project for Arden following his 2023 Tony win for helming the Tony-winning revival of “Parade.” He was Tony-nominated twice prior for directing revivals of “Once on This Island” in 2018 and “Spring Awakening” in 2016. 

“Maybe Happy Ending” will feature scenic design and additional video by Tony nominee Dane Laffrey, costume design by Tony winner Clint Ramos, lighting design by Tony nominee Ben Stanton, sound design by Tony winner Peter Hylenski, video design by George Reeve, music supervision by Deborah Abramson, music direction by John Yun and production stage management by Justin Scribner.

Additional casting, by Telsey & Co., is forthcoming.

“Maybe Happy Ending” is being produced by Jeffrey Richards, Hunter Arnold, Criss (in his Broadway producing debut), Rebecca Gold, Spencer Ross, Adam Zotovich, Kayla Greenspan, M/B/P Productions, Fahs Productions, Ken Greiner, Ruth Hendel, Willette and Manny Klausner, Cody Lassen, Mix and Match Productions, Jacob Stuckelman & John Albert Harris and the Nederlander Organization. Allan Williams will serve as executive producer.

Correction: An earlier version misspelled Helen J. Shen’s name in the headline. This has been corrected.