The play's the thing
TULSA ACTOR Chris Crawford had just finished watching Dallas Theater Center’s production of “A Christmas Carol” when he realized what he wanted to do with his career.
Reminded of the power of theater, he told best friend Courtneay Sanders, “That’s the kind of stuff I want to do.” Work that moves the audience; that happens because of the trust among cast members.
That night, he began researching theater companies, including Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company, which has produced award-winning actors and plays.
The result was Playhouse Theatre, a Tulsa-based regional theater company that will present its first production, “Romeo and Juliet,” this month, two years after Crawford assembled an artistic board of actors, playwrights, designers and others.
He says Tulsa has a wealth of untapped talent, and many actors have left Oklahoma to find professional work. He wants Playhouse to keep them here.
Plans derailed slightly in April 2007 when Crawford won a competition through which he became part of The Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, D.C. Yet his heart remained in Tulsa with Playhouse, and he returned in February 2008.
Now, Playhouse has a diverse slate of performances planned, including a comedy, a family show, a holiday show, a drama/thriller and a musical comedy. Crawford serves as artistic director with Sanders as managing director.
Inevitably, Crawford wants Playhouse Theatre to become the site for local theater students to act alongside professionals from New York or L.A., and where actors from other cities come to audition for roles. He also plans to develop an after-school program.
“I think it could be that great,” Crawford says. “I’m just stupid enough to believe that every piece of theater you do can change the lives of everybody involved. ... If we do our job, we will change as much as the audience.”