Andy Croston: Stepping Out of the Booth (Again)

Andy Croston is no stranger to the patrons of The Warehouse Theatre.  They see him every show.  Literally.  As the Front of House Manager, Andy ensures everything runs smoothly pre-show, intermission, and post-show so all patrons enjoy their experience.  However, for the second time in eight months, Andy is stepping off of his swiveling stool in the box office and taking the stage instead.  With his compadres Evan Harris and Preston Taylor Stone, Andy is sure to deliver some belly laughs for all incoming Shakespearean adventurers!  Andy was kind enough to answer a few choice questions about his work at The Warehouse, his knack for performing the same Shakespearean plays two or more times, and his upcoming performance.

WHT:  Let’s start with the usual…degree and school, boss.
Andy:  Bob Jones University, Interpretive Speech.  And it’s a Master’s Degree, too.  Try not to be jealous.

WHT:  What’s your hometown?
Andy:  Kensington, Kansas.

WHT:  How long have you been in Greenville?
Andy:  22 years.

WHT:  How many shows have you clocked at Warehouse?  What was the last one?
Andy:  Ten on the Main Stage.  Six (and lots of improv comedy) with The Distracted Globe.  Last time up I was Steve Hubbell in A Streetcar Named Desire.

WHT:  Favorite production ever with which you physically worked?
Andy:  All of them are a favorite for different reasons.  Each cast is a different family, each character a different journey…

WHT:  What is your favorite experience in a theatre – as actor, technician, audience member, or director?
Andy:  As an audience member, being moved by performances that are so powerful, you feel like your life has been expanded and enriched by the ideas and emotions presented.

WHT:  What is your favorite part of being an actor?
Andy:  Telling the story in a compelling way and getting to work with some fantastic people.

WHT:  Person you haven’t worked with yet (any capacity) that’s still on your wish list?
Andy:  I don’t have ambitions that big.  Just being able to be a part of any cast, any performance is a great honor.

WHT:  Who is the person that has influenced your acting…your process the most?
Andy:  I can’t say that there is any one person who stands out.  I think I try to learn a little something from everyone whose work I’ve observed.

WHT:  Do you have a routine that you go through before a performance?
Andy:  My routine involves singing.  It’s a good vocal warmup.  My sincerest apologies to those who are unfortunate enough to have to listen.  I also try to make sure I get a high-five or fist bump with my fellow actors immediately before a show…the final wish for broken legs and a successful performance.

WHT:  How many non-abridged Shakespeare’s do you have under your belt?
Andy:  I’ve done many Shakespeare plays: Much Ado About Nothing four different times (three different roles), Romeo and Juliet twice, The Merchant of Venice twice, MacBeth, Taming of the Shrew twice, Hamlet, Henry IV, Julius Caesar, Two Noble Kinsmen, Pericles, Twelfth Night, and King Lear.

WHT:  Favorite thing about working on a script for the first time?  Or revisiting one if you’ve done this show before?
Andy:  Each script is a new challenge, a new journey.

WHT:  Favorite part about this rehearsal process or show’s progress?
Andy:  I’ve always been a fan of The Complete Works (Abridged), so just being able to work on this show is a favorite part.

WHT:  One thing you learned during this process or something you rediscovered?
Andy:  The beauty of Shakespeare’s verse.  Also, the fun of bringing a Python-esque mentality to Shakespeare.

WHT:  Moment in the show that has changed the most for you from the beginning of rehearsal until now?
Andy:  We’ve been in rehearsals less than a week, but we can all feel the pacing starting to pick up.  By the time we get to opening, we should be able to go at a breakneck pace.  It’s entirely possible we might be so fast that we will not be able to be understood.

WHT:  What was it like to experience references to or pieces of rather well known texts in a bit of a different light?
Andy:  It’s great!  We all need a change in perspective.  Familiarity often means we lose our sensitivity.  We too often shut off our minds around things we are familiar with.  Seeing those familiar things in a different way refreshes the way in which you interact with them.

WHT:  How does performing in an intimate setting like The Warehouse affect your work?
Andy:  From the first performance I ever saw here (Bruce Kuhn’s performance of The Gospel of Luke), I knew this was the space in which I wanted to work.  I love being close to the audience.  I think it just challenges me to be more committed to the action.  It is certainly more dangerous.  Being distant from the audience sometimes lets me think I can get away with being a little more distant from the character I play.

WHT:  How did your research for the show affect your performance?
Andy:  Because the authors did very little research on Shakespeare, I thought it only fair that I do absolutely no research whatsoever.

WHT:  Did a previous screening or performance of Shakespeare Abridged influence you in any direction?
Andy:  I hope not.  I hope that we bring our own spin to the spin of (Abridged) that makes our performance unique.

WHT:  Do you have a piece of advice for audience member coming to see Abridged?
Andy:  It doesn’t matter where you sit.  You cannot escape.

WHT:  Favorite part about performing in Greenville?
Andy:  Well, there are certainly more acting opportunities here than in rural Nebraska and Kansas.  Andy drew a smiley face here.

WHT:  Do you have other jobs outside of acting?
Andy:  I work for Fusion Audio + Video as a technician.

WHT:  Next production is?
Andy:  Season 2 of The First Five Years, a project involving many Greenville actors.  Evan Harris is one of the co-writers.

See Andy Croston in the Hamlet / Titus roles in The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged playing through July 26th!