Crossley Discusses Roles in National's Anything Goes & Love's Labour's Lost

News   Crossley Discusses Roles in National's Anything Goes & Love's Labour's Lost
Daniel Crossley is one of the most successful musical theatre dancers of his generation (he's 28) but is keen to do more "straight" acting as well as singing. He's doing plenty of both at the National Theatre at the moment. Theatrenow went to meet him.

How is Love's Labour's Lost going? "Really well! I'm pleased to have the chance to act in Shakespeare in the same theatre as I'm dancing (and acting and singing!) in Cole Porter."

You're best known as a dancer. Are you moving out of that and into acting? "It's not that I'm leaving dancing, it's that I want to do more acting. Working with Trevor Nunn, and the rest of the company, in Love's Labour's Lost is great because it's such a contrast to Anything Goes. It's a different form of discipline, and as a performer you use a different side of your brain.

"One of the things I most enjoyed about the rehearsal process was that we spent about a week talking about Shakespeare, and the text, and the ideas expressed in it. It was like a master class in Shakespeare and Shakespearean acting."

Anything Goes is an amazingly energetic show, and the choreography has played a major part in its success. Can you tell us something about that aspect of it? "Stephen Mear is a great choreographer, and he's drawn on thirties choreography in staging the piece. But, then, 1930's choreography — all those MGM musicals, for example — are still very influential today. Even modern show choreography owes quite a lot to it.

"One thing that Stephen and Trevor were definite about was that they wanted all-rounders. So, the dancers had to be able to sing well, too. And that makes it more interesting as a performer — I like having the chance to sing." Matthew Bourne, when he was collecting his second Olivier Award last week, said he thought dancers were often treated as third-class citizens, after actors and singers. Do you agree? "Yes! It's seen as somehow lower down on the professional ladder, which is obviously wrong. As Matthew also said, dance is coming more into the mainstream of West End theatre at the moment, and that's obviously a positive move."

Do you have any ambitions to become a choreographer like Bourne? And who's your favorite choreographer in any case? "I don't have any ambitions in that area. Watching someone like Stephen Mear at work is fascinating; you can see all the ideas arranging themselves in his head, and being expressed during rehearsals, but I don't think like that — I'm not even keen on being a dance captain let alone a choreographer! I prefer to be out front, performing.

"My favorite choreographer has to be Bob Fosse. I loved working on Chicago at the Adelphi, and Fosse at the prince of Wales. Although Chicago is a musical rather than solely a dance piece, everything in it was informed by Fosse's original role as a choreographer, and as a fan of his, it was wonderful to have the chance to work with Gwen Verdon and Ann Reinking, two of the dancers most closely associated with him."

You've proved yourself as a dancer in a lot of shows over the last few years. Are you planning on making as big an impact as an actor? "I'd love to do more acting — though I've done a fair amount over the last couple of years at the Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park, and some of the smaller-scale shows I've worked on, like Dorothy Fields Forever were also much more than dance roles, even if the dance was what made most impact.

"The trouble is that in Britain — unlike America — being multi-skilled is something that's treated with suspicion, rather than admired or celebrated. Here, people like to label you, so if you're known as a dancer — and that's a nice thing in itself, of course — it's hard to be taken seriously as an actor, and vice versa.

"Hopefully that'll change, and for me the fact that I can be seen in what's fundamentally — for all the singing etc — a dancing role in Anything Goes and an acting one in Love's Labour's Lost, both at the National, is the ideal way to start!"

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