Diary of An Actor | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Diary of An Actor


Turner Crumbley is spending this season balancing two shows. He starts his nights as that narrator in "A Christmas Carol" then moves to the late-night one-man show "Santaland Diaries," written by noted funnyman David Sedaris.

The handsome and professional Crumbley, 27, decided to be an actor as a child. His parents took him to see many shows at New Stage Theatre. Crumbley thought to himself, while looking onto the stage during productions, "I can see myself doing this."

After graduating high school, the Laurel native attended the University of Southern Mississippi. He performed in several of the college's productions and had intense training for acting. He earned his bachelor's degree in theater. Afterward, he branched out for professional auditions.

"I love the traveling that acting offers," he says with a smile. "I've gotten to travel to different parts of the nation."

Crumbley went to Stage One, a large-scale theater for children based in Louisville, Ky. He ended up there for over half a year doing repertory work.

He then worked at a theater in Montana, Big Fork Playhouse right at the foot of Glacier National Park. He performed for celebrities on occasion there. It's a celebrity tourist trap. "It's basically a nice village, and we were the entertainment," he says.

While he was in Jackson one summer, a friend told him about general auditions at New Stage. Even though Crumbley grew up seeing productions at New Stage, it never crossed his mind to audition for New Stage after college.

He auditioned, and Patrick Benton, the artistic director of New Stage, thought that he would do well in "Tales of the Arabian Nights." The following spring, Benton called and told him he had a job in Jackson, Miss. This production was his New Stage premiere. He went to California afterward and worked at Sierra Repertory Theatre there.

New Stage later hired him back to perform in "Ride a Blue Horse." He has played Joe the Sheriff in "Spitfire Grill," Lloyd the director in "Noises Off," "Santaland Diaries" and Fred in last year's "A Christmas Carol."

Crumbley explains that a stamina adjustment comes with playing David, the narrator in "A Christmas Carol," and then putting on his elf suit for the irreverent late-night show.

"Fred is a supporting role, and he's a needy character and very positive," he says. "He plays this ideologist who runs off stage, and then I get a little bit of rest between 'SantaLand Diaries'."

David by contrast never leaves the stage. Not only does he never leave the stage, Crumbley is a very different actor than the last person who played David. It's become a very physical role only in last three rehearsals. "Physical stamina is a lot in this. Sam (Sparks, the director) has turned this into a physical role," he says.

Crumbley explains that acting is not what most people perceive it to be. It is blue collar, he says. Acting is a lot of hard work, but at the same time, it's fun. Acting is fast-paced and competitive.

The actor has also crossed over from the stage to the screen, working on a few short films. His most recent film credit is "Revisited" by Will Fox, featured in the Crossroads Film Festival. He's done film work and commercials in New Orleans. He did a series of national commercials recently for Eyevox.

Crumbley plans to stay in Mississippi for at least the next five to six months. In January, he begins filming "CheckMate." Also he is playing the stage manager, Mr. FitzPatrick, in New Stage's "Skin of Our Teeth" set to run in the spring.

"I would love to say that I have super goals and plans, but I absolutely have no plans for the future. As an actor, you go to auditions and hopefully land an awesome part," Crumbley says.

"Santaland Diaries," opens Dec. 8 and runs until the 17th.

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