Ann Crumb to appear in ‘Wings’ at the Media Theatre

It’s not ex­actly the way she ori­gin­ally planned it, but when a severe arm in­jury in­ter­rup­ted her de­sire to be­come a clas­sic vi­ol­in­ist, she turned to­ward singing and act­ing as a way to still pur­sue her love of per­form­ing.

“I was at the Uni­versity of Michigan and ap­peared in a show there be­fore I ever saw one,” said Ann Crumb, ap­pear­ing as Emily at the Me­dia Theatre in Wings through Feb. 26.

“Since that in­jury meant the end of my days as a suc­cess­ful clas­sic­al vi­ol­in­ist as I saw it, I switched my ma­jor to theat­er, Eng­lish and lan­guage patho­logy. I even­tu­ally tried out for a role in Fid­dler on the Roof and got it,” she said.

And that, said Crumb, was the be­gin­ning of a whole new and very re­ward­ing ca­reer, which has in­cluded a Tony nom­in­a­tion, two Bar­ry­more Award nom­in­a­tions and one win, and many more.

“I re­mem­ber the first time I heard a CD of Evita and wanted to play the lead role so badly I de­cided I had to study voice so I could sing the role. And I did,” said Crumb. “And over a year later I was on Broad­way in Les Miser­ables.”

She went on to ori­gin­ate nu­mer­ous lead­ing roles on Broad­way and Lon­don’s West End. She starred in As­pects of Love — be­com­ing the first Amer­ic­an act­ress chosen by An­drew Lloyd Webber to cre­ate a star­ring role — The Good­bye Girl, Nine, Chess and oth­ers.

Crumb, the daugh­ter of com­poser George Crumb and sis­ter of com­poser Dav­id Crumb, has also amassed many tele­vi­sion cred­its, in­clud­ing the day­time soaps As The World Turns, The Guid­ing Light, and An­oth­er World. She has also been seen in Law & Or­der and Law & Or­der: Crim­in­al In­tent.

Still, her pref­er­ence will al­ways be on the stage, she said, “al­though I do really wish I had gone more in the dir­ec­tion of the visu­al me­dia earli­er. The roles I played on the stage were so ex­haust­ing that it made it im­possible for me to do both, but now ap­pear­ing on the stage be­comes dif­fi­cult hav­ing to do those eight shows a week.”

Today, show­ing her­self more than able to meet chal­lenges head-on, Crumb was per­haps the best choice to ap­pear in Wings, the story of a wo­man re­cov­er­ing from a stroke who has mo­ments of clar­ity, dur­ing which she speaks of her ad­ven­ture­some life, in­clud­ing be­ing a wing walk­er. But then there are the lapses of lan­guage and co­her­ence that turns her speech in­to driv­el and turns clar­ity in­to con­fu­sion.

The act­ress ex­plained that her back­ground as a cer­ti­fied speech and lan­guage patho­lo­gist helped her un­der­stand the emo­tion­al­ity of the role, real­iz­ing what Emily faces while try­ing to come back to her­self from the stroke.

“Emily is a wo­man who is ac­cus­tomed to free­dom and do­ing ex­actly what she wants to do when she wants to do it,” said Crumb, who re­fuses to dis­close her age. “She took chances and now we have a meta­phor in the play of a plane crash­ing and the body crash­ing.

“I think this is a really fas­cin­at­ing play for every­one,” Crumb con­tin­ued. “I’ve tried to break down what Emily is try­ing to say, in­clud­ing her in­ner dia­logue and what goes on in her head. I think she knows what she wants to say but is frus­trated and con­fused as much by the lack of oth­ers’ un­der­stand­ing as they are by what sounds to them like gib­ber­ish.”

Crumb ac­know­ledged that roles like this are ex­tremely dif­fi­cult to play.

“This is a mu­sic­al, and by the last song I’m so choked up I can barely sing a note, so, for me, it’s a pretty power­ful ex­per­i­ence,” she said. “That’s one of the biggest chal­lenges in play­ing the part. It be­comes very tricky for me.”

When Crumb is not on the stage, she serves as pres­id­ent of The Res­cue Ex­press, a non-profit Pennsylvania res­cue cen­ter for dogs.

“I’ve al­ways loved all liv­ing things, so this is the per­fect op­por­tun­ity for me to show that love,” she said. ••

For times and tick­et in­form­a­tion, call 610-891-0100.

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