CHICAGO (CBS) — J Anthony Crane always knew he wanted to be an actor, especially after his mother took him to see ‘Le Miserables’ in London more than 30 years ago.
“I wept like a baby. I completely loved it,” said Crane, who graduated from Northwestern University in 1993.
Majoring in theater at Northwestern, he says his training has given him opportunities both on the stage as well as on the screen.
“As you move from your drama classes, you realize 15 years later, those essentials start to come back. I really feel Northwestern qualifies. Not only is there great acting training, it’s sort of a literary, academic tour through theater. You appreciate it as a medium. A lot of people come out of that program as writers, producers and adapters of fiction,” Crane said.
He plays Monsieur Thénardier, who is the villain of the show. “It’s great to finally get to do the weirdos, the crazy, sort of scandalous scoundrels. It’s super fun.”
The California native says he loves returning to Chicago to perform before a familiar audience.
“I’ve been lucky to come back here almost every year for the last 3-4 years. A couple of years ago, I did a play a the Goodman. Last year, I got to come back and do “Chicago PD,” and so it’s great to feel comfortable in a city like Chicago,” said Crane.
He has performed in four Broadway shows so far, most recently ‘The Country House.’ He was also Scar’s replacement in the 2002 national tour of ‘The Lion King,’ but says performing in ‘Les Miserables’ is a long-time dream.
“It’s been around long enough to affect a new generation. I never thought I’d do this show and I’m thrilled.”
Set against the backdrop of 19th-century France, the musical tells a story of broken dreams and unrequited love, passion, sacrifice and redemption — a timeless testament to the survival of the human spirit.
Featuring the thrilling score and beloved songs “I Dreamed A Dream,” “On My Own,” “Stars,” “Bring Him Home,” “One Day More,” and many more, this epic and uplifting story has become one of the most celebrated musicals in theatrical history.
Seen by more than 70 million people in 44 countries and in 22 languages around the globe, ‘Les Miserables’ is still the world’s most popular musical, breaking box office records everywhere in its 32nd year.