News Column

Have talent, will travel: Andrew Crowe goes where acting, music take him

May 23, 2013

YellowBrix

May 23--Andrew Crowe's home is 30 feet long. He hauls it on wheels behind his Chevy truck.

The recreational vehicle is Crowe's base of operations as the actor travels from show to show across the country.

Most recently, Crowe steered his RV to Fayetteville, where he is starring in Cape Fear Regional Theatre's production of "Cotton Patch Gospel." The annual river show is being presented through Sunday at Campbellton Landing Amphitheater.

The nomadic lifestyle suits Crowe, whose parents were missionaries and spent time in Portugal, Germany and the United States.

"With the RV," Crowe said, "the nice thing is I have the freedom to be anywhere."

Crowe, 33, was born in Charlotte. At a young age, he moved with his family to Portugal, where he spent most of his school years.

After finishing high school in Germany, Charlotte and West Virginia, Crowe studied violin at Taylor University in Indiana. He graduated in 2002 with a degree in music.

Although he focused on music -- and now plays guitar, piano, mandolin, drums and other instruments -- Crowe developed a complementary interest in theater.

After graduating from college, Crowe moved to New York, where he waited tables while looking for theater work.

"I knew that I wanted to perform, but I was sort of working under the assumption that I would be performing classical music," Crowe said. "But I was doing theater on the side and loving doing it."

While in New York, Crowe performed off-Broadway and in touring shows. A highlight was performing in a Shakespeare in the Park production of "Twelfth Night" with Anne Hathaway.

"She was an absolute sweetheart. Very approachable and down to earth," Crowe said. "It became apparent as the run went on that Anne was one of the people who really set the bar for being grateful for being there and checking our egos at the door."

As Crowe began to get more work with touring shows, he spent less and less time in the city. Finally, he bought the RV to make his travels more comfortable.

With his musical background, Crowe has developed a speciality in plays that require performers who can play instruments as well as act.

Along with "Cotton Patch Gospel" -- a contemporary, musical retelling of the story of Christ -- Crowe has starred in "Pump Boys and Dinettes," "Smoke on the Mountain" and other plays that mix music, drama and comedy.

Crowe also found time to record a CD, "Back to Happy." The set features Crowe singing and playing his own compositions.

Crowe's musical background is apparent when you step into his RV, which currently is parked outside the home of "Cotton Patch Gospel" director Bo Thorp.

Instruments including a fiddle, guitar and mandolin lean against the walls of the RV. Crowe also plays the djembe, an African drum, and the bohdran, an Irish drum.

"That's what's gotten me work, the fact that I play these instruments, but I'm also an actor," Crowe said. "They say in theater you have to find a niche, and that's my niche -- I'm an actor who plays instruments."

Crowe said he seldom feels lonely on the road. He tends to quickly form bonds with the other performers he meets at shows. Crowe also occasionally stops off in Raleigh, where he has family.

For recreation, Crowe carries in his RV a powered paraglider from which he can check out the towns he visits from above.

"I can take off from any open field and fly around, explore and land right back where I started," he said. "It's so much fun. It's just beautiful to be up there."

Crowe said he often is asked how long he will continue to live his life on the road. He doesn't have a set answer.

At some point, Crowe said, he might want to settle down. A Broadway role would be nice, as would a role in a major movie.

But Crowe said he isn't anxious to leave the road anytime soon. He references a song on his "Back to Happy" CD called "American Highway."

"I guess people have a different idea of home," Crowe said. "But for me, home is this American highway."

'Cotton Patch Gospel'

Where: Campbellton Landing Amphitheater, 1122 Person St.

When: Through Sunday, May 26. Dinner theater begins at 7:15 p.m., the show starts at 8. The Sunday matinee, which doesn't include a meal, will be presented at the theater at 1209 Hay St.

Tickets: Dinner theater is $27 and $29. Reserved seating for the show only is $19 and $22. General admission show only is $18 and $20.

Information: 323-4233 or cfrt.org

Staff writer Rodger Mullen can be reached at mullenr@fayobserver.com or 486-3561.

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