Anthony Crivello Talks About Jane Eyre: The Musical
I have long thought it a pity that there were no substantive interviews with Anthony Crivello, who originated the role of Mr. Rochester in the Gordon/Caird musical (earning a Dora nomination- a Canadian theatre award), currently playing the Phantom in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘Phantom Spectacular’ in Las Vegas. With the help of his assistant, I was able to ask him a few questions (although there were many more things I wished to know!). Anthony is one of my favourite actors to play Mr. Rochester in any medium, so this was a real treat for me to interview him. Thank you, Mr. Crivello! Also, if my readers would like to hear this version of Jane Eyre: The Musical, you may listen and download it here.
How did you go about preparing for playing Edward Rochester?
It was a lovely, ‘building block’ process. About six months after working on the first demo I read “JANE EYRE.” While reading, I searching for those characteristics in Rochester I could relate to… and envisioned (in my minds eye) location, environment, clothing … and the other principle characters (with the descriptions Bronte described. I began to structure all while gathering the author’s (Bronte) intent. I watched the films “Rebecca” (1940) and “Wuthering Heights” (1939 version.) for research purposes. Through “JANE EYRE’s” work shops, “try-outs”and creative journey (which for me was nine years), I continued to build the character, with director John Caird and composer Paul Gordon’s help. I researched the period, appropriate accent ( I did not want to pronounce words accented in a stilted way, and have them not match my singing… so I leaned on the standard Mid-Atlantic accent.)I researched ‘blindness’ and it’s effect on behavior. I am ‘Method’ trained, so I continually try to “stay open” to the spontaneous and see where it might lead me. That lead to some lovely character discovery along the way.
What are your thoughts on the character?
Rochester is of the best characters I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. I am very proud of my work on the piece, both on stage and on the album. To this day, I still receive comments about my work in “JANE EYRE” which is a gratifying blessing. Rochester is complex: brooding, humble, arrogant, romantic, heartbroken, intelligent, passionate, funny, tortured, bombastic… all put to beautiful melody, lyrics and dialogue. What more can an actor ask for in a role?
What were some of the challenges of playing the role?
No challenges. Just a day to day delight in the journey of discovery.If there was any challenge, it was balancing the long journey in seeing the piece finally come to creative fruition with my home life. And with the demands of being a stage actor… life on the road proves to be difficult on the personal. It requires a sacrificing, and a continuous search for inner Peace. Great fodder for making Rochester real… but not so delightful in the day to day grind.
Did you have any specific sources of inspiration?
Many. My heroes are of the common … I think those who are fortunate and perceptive enough to experience life’s ups and downs, and wake up wiser are inspiring. I have been lucky to have great teachers and interesting, creative friends… many of whom are so much smarter then me. I try my best to listen when they speak, and ask probing questions.
You were involved with the production at a very early stage. Were there any changes to the interpretation and development of the character of Rochester over that time?
It just kept evolving. ‘Rochester’ somehow stood his ground… so the character lead the way.But I have to say, in it’s early stages, the “JANE EYRE” we did in Wichita, KS. still merits in it’s purity of heart. It was just as loving, just as heartbreaking. The simplistic story telling done at that stage was piercing. Also, I always loved touches like Brocklehurst singing “Naughty Girl” as a solo.To me, it was much more effective, much more defining, and frightening. Also, very early on… had the pleasure of singing early demos opposite Ms. Sally Dworski as ‘Jane.’ Sally is blessed with a nightingale’s voice. Pure, clean, sweet… it just disarms you. I wish you had the pleasure of hearing those very early demos. They were delightful.
Why did you leave the show after its Toronto run?
See http://imdb.com/name/nm0188266/ for the answer.
What are some of your favorite memories of Jane Eyre?
Aaaaaahhhh…. a very easy question to answer. Taking all the “Lowood School” girls out to The Golden Griddle in Toronto for pancakes. I treated about ten of them to “late breakfast’ between shows on a Saturday matinee day. It remains a wonderful memory. They were a delightful, mischievous group, as were Wichita young ladies.
Do you remember any fun on-stage blooper stories you can share?
Please… I would only embarrass myself and damage my ‘sterling reputation.’ Suffice it to say ‘the Gypsy’ was a lot more mischievous ‘beneath the cape’ than what appeared to the audiences. ( Crivello says with a wink and a smile… I can’t give my entire ‘Secret Soul’ away!)
Let me conclude by saying the entire journey was a joy. I was very fortunate to have worked with some wonderful, talented cast members, both in Wichita and Toronto…. and even prior to those performance cities with the early demos. Our crews in both locations were supportive, and caring. We were supported by producers who believed in the show. My experiences with Kathy Haupman and Laura Bergquist in Wichita, KS. and David and Ed Mirvish in Toronto were professional, generous and most appreciated. Our creative team was completely devoted to the project, and I believe their work was splendid indeed. I hope one day to have an additional relationship with what I believe to be a lovely piece of theater, and a beautiful story.