March 18, 2019

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From the big screen to the big stage

Movie roles pay the bills but actress's love is musicals like Royal MTC's Matilda

Sharon Crandall is a working actress based in Vancouver, which means her credits are all over the place.

Check out her resumé and you’ll see she’s credited as the “woman in casts” on the Netflix show A Series of Unfortunate Events. She also a defence attorney on the newly released Steve Carell film Welcome to Marwen. In conversation, she laughingly recalls seeing her character designation — “Biker Dyke” — on the trailer dressing room of the 2017 ABC miniseries When We Rise.

The mother of two boys aged 10 and 12, Crandall, 40, says she stays busy in Vancouver since local actors tend to get some of the smaller roles in many of the American productions that come to Vancouver to film.

On stage, however, Crandall gets more of a chance to shine, especially in the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre show Matilda: The Musical — a co-production with Vancouver’s Arts Club and Edmonton’s Citadel theatres. Crandall has the role of Mrs. Phelps, a librarian who engages with the young heroine, listening to a story Matilda weaves about a couple of escape artists.

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Sharon Crandall is a working actress based in Vancouver, which means her credits are all over the place.

Theatre preview

Click to Expand

Matilda
John Hirsch Mainstage, Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre
● Opens Thursday, Jan. 10 to Saturday, Feb. 2
● Tickets: $61-$100.50 at royalmtc.ca

Check out her resumé and you’ll see she’s credited as the "woman in casts" on the Netflix show A Series of Unfortunate Events. She also a defence attorney on the newly released Steve Carell film Welcome to Marwen. In conversation, she laughingly recalls seeing her character designation — "Biker Dyke" — on the trailer dressing room of the 2017 ABC miniseries When We Rise.

The mother of two boys aged 10 and 12, Crandall, 40, says she stays busy in Vancouver since local actors tend to get some of the smaller roles in many of the American productions that come to Vancouver to film.

Sharon Crandall may be able to relate to the character of Matilda more than anyone else, at least in the young girl’s role as an outlier. (Kristine Cofsky photo)

Sharon Crandall may be able to relate to the character of Matilda more than anyone else, at least in the young girl’s role as an outlier. (Kristine Cofsky photo)

On stage, however, Crandall gets more of a chance to shine, especially in the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre show Matilda: The Musical — a co-production with Vancouver’s Arts Club and Edmonton’s Citadel theatres. Crandall has the role of Mrs. Phelps, a librarian who engages with the young heroine, listening to a story Matilda weaves about a couple of escape artists.

In short, Mrs. Phelps is the first adult to realize Matilda (played alternately by Anna Anderson-Epp and Lilla Solymos on the Winnipeg stage) is a child of extraordinary intelligence and even more extraordinary abilities, including telekinesis. Unfortunately, Matilda’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood, have no interest in their child, preferring distractions in the form of ballroom dancing (for Mrs. Wormwood) and television (for Mr. Wormwood).

"She has known Matilda ever since she came to the library at the age of four," Crandall explains. "She really loves to encourage Matilda’s creativity and she gets sucked into the story."

Matilda’s engagement with any adult comes as a relief in this musical adaptation of a story by Roald Dahl, the author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach, books that often see children attempting to prevail in a universe filled with hostile adults.

"Mrs. Phelps allows her to see that there are caring adults out there — people who support your reading and your creativity."

Anna Anderson-Epp and Sharon Crandall in Matilda. Photos by Dylan Hewlett.</p></p>

Anna Anderson-Epp and Sharon Crandall in Matilda. Photos by Dylan Hewlett.

 


 

As a performer, Crandall may be able to relate to the character of Matilda more than anyone else, at least in the young girl’s role as an outlier. Crandall moved to Vancouver at the age of 10 with her parents from Jakarta, Indonesia.

At the time, she didn’t have an inkling she was destined for a career in acting, let alone musical theatre.

"I didn’t start rebelling until I was here," she says, laughing. "I was the good little girl. I followed my mom’s advice on everything and did everything she wanted me to do.

"They brought us from Jakarta to Vancouver for a better life and I don’t think they anticipated me being an actor," she says. "They always said: ‘You’re going to be a doctor.’ They come from a family of doctors.

"So I didn’t start rebelling until I was in high school, first joining the choir and then during musicals and staying late at night at rehearsals," she says. "And my parents didn’t really support this."

She could understand their perspective.

Sharon Crandall and Anna Anderson-Epp in Matilda. Photos by Dylan Hewlett.</p></p>

Sharon Crandall and Anna Anderson-Epp in Matilda. Photos by Dylan Hewlett.

"Acting is not a guaranteed career. So many people go into it and can’t really do much with it," says the University of British Columbia grad. "So I appeased them by getting a bachelors in arts degree. And during the whole time, I was doing what I wanted to do: doing musicals."

Crandall stays busy and that comforts her parents, evidently.

"Now they’re saying she’s going to be OK," adding that her parents will see the show when it moves to Vancouver’s Arts Club in May.

And perhaps they will recognize their daughter within the character she plays.

"Mrs. Phelps follows her heart," Crandall says. "She’s a kid at heart and sometimes the adult thing doesn’t come to naturally to her."

randall.king@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @FreepKing

Randall King

Randall King
Reporter

In a way, Randall King was born into the entertainment beat.

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