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Lea Michele Teases 'Spontaneous' Tour With Darren Criss, Promises Major 'Glee' Tribute

Darren Criss Lea Michele
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Darren Criss and Lea Michele at The Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel on April 25, 2014 in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Lea Michele and Darren Criss kick off their joint LM/DC Tour Wednesday night (May 30) at Nashville's famed Ryman Auditorium. But somewhere in her busy rehearsal schedule, Michele found time to fly down to Dallas to deliver a high-school commencement speech -- and who better to give one, considering she's basically graduated from high school twice.

Years after graduating from New Jersey's Tenafly High School, Michele had another ceremony on camera as her Glee alter-ego Rachel Berry. So the 31-year-old shared drew from both her real and fictional high school experiences when she spoke to graduating students at Uplift Peak Preparatory on May 25 in partnership with appliance manufacturer Whirlpool's "Congrats, parents" campaign.

"What I really want to instill in them is to be proud of the work they’ve accomplished thus far, but to keep working hard," Michele told Billboard ahead of her speech. She also said Glee is still one of her top accomplishments to date. "I still watch Glee all the time -- best show ever," she says with a laugh. "Sometimes I can’t believe that we did all the things that we did on that show. Like a musical number in a swimming pool – I did that? That’s crazy!"

With Glee still holding such a special place in her heart, Michele is eager to hit the road with Criss and re-live some of their best moments on the show in a live setting. Confirming what Criss previously hinted at in another Billboard interview, Michele said that fans checking out the LM/DC Tour will see the pair sing most of their Glee duets, as well as songs they wanted to do on the show, like "Falling Slowly" from the romantic Broadway hit Once.

"I have a very large Glee section," she said. "Because when I went on tour last year, my second album Places had just come out -- I was so proud of Places, but now I can really do whatever I want. So I do two songs from Places, a couple songs from Louder, but then I have a larger more musical theater and Glee section that really just reminisces on that time of my life and some of my favorite songs from the show."

Michele also gushed over her tour mate's "incredible" set. "He’s doing this new version of a song you’ve heard him sing before that is so great. I legitimately stood up and started screaming like a fan,” she laughed. "Darren's set has a little bit more of a '90s flair, the kind of music that you really want to jam to."

She also made a last-minute addition of a song by one of her all-time favorites, Lady Gaga, though she won't say which one. "I didn’t sing it on Glee, it’s just a personal favorite song of mine," she said. "I’m a huge Gaga fan, I think she’s absolutely amazing. I listen to her music before I perform, it totally pumps me up."

But impromptu decisions are a fitting call for the tour, as Michele calls Criss one of the more spontaneous performers she's ever sang with. Says Michele: "Yesterday in the middle of rehearsing our set he was like, 'Just sing "Defying Gravity" right now.' Normally I would be like, 'I can’t just sing "Defying Gravity," what are you talking about? That’s the hardest song in the entire world!' But because I trust him so much and he makes things so fun, I was like, 'Fuck it! Let’s sing "Defying Gravity!"'

She's hoping those unplanned moments will make their way into the shows and make every night unique.

"Darren's spontaneity really does push me to do things I would never do before, and it really builds up my confidence a lot, whether or not he knows that," she said. "So I’m very grateful for him and his friendship. We’re both very ambitious people, so this just feels like a very natural thing for us to be doing in our careers and in our friendship. And it feels great to feel like I’m getting to see a different side of myself along the way."

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