Brian Crane did some acting in high school and college but largely set it aside for several years while he pursued career and academia.
Since 2004 he’s been acting on a semi-pro level in various productions with American Century Theater, Washington Shakespeare Company and other local outfits. He opens tonight in a production of Clifford Odets’ “The Country Girl,” the play that was adapted into the film version that won Grace Kelly an Oscar in the title role, at American (meeting at the Gunston Arts Center Theater II, 2700 South Lang St. in Arlington) — visit americancentury.org for details).
Crane says his role, Frank, is an artistic challenge.
“It’s a very emotional part,” he says. “Frank goes through these really big swings and it’s got some interesting challenges. It’s harsh and there’s plenty not to like about Frank but you have to make him lovable or the play doesn’t work. There’s something lovable and vulnerable about this man I could identify with. He lies, he manipulates but at the same time he has this disarming charm, like a grown-up kid.”
Crane, a 47-year-old Pittsburgh native, came to Washington in 1992 to do a pre-doctoral fellowship in anthropology at the Smithsonian. He’d been in Philadelphia for college (grad and undergrad) for 10 years before that. By day, he’s director of Cultural Resources Division at Versar, a global project management company based in Springfield, Va.
Crane and his partner, Murray Scheel, an attorney, live together in Foggy Bottom and have been together for 16 years. Crane enjoys theater, backpacking and photography in his free time. He also loves to squeeze in Saturday afternoon naps when he can.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I’ve been out since graduate school, about 25 years. My mom was the hardest to tell because she and my dad took my brother’s coming out so hard.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
I’m not sure, maybe Walt Whitman, or Oscar Wilde for being so wonderfully flamboyant in their art. Among the living, maybe Stephen Fry; he has such a charming and gentle wit, and he had the guts to give Shakespeare in Klingon a try.
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
I still have fond memories of Tracks: that was the first place I ever went dancing in D.C.
Describe your dream wedding.
I’m not sure Murray is the marrying type, but if we did, I would want it in our home church, St. Thomas Parish, with all our friends and family with us.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
What historical outcome would you change?
That’s hard. There are so many awful things, how could I choose? But in my own lifetime, the election of 2000 was such a rotten turning point for this country, and it left us so divided.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
I guess the advent of social media. It’s brought me back in touch with so many people that I had lost contact with.
On what do you insist?
Not nearly enough, I’m not very assertive. But I always make sure I get breakfast, a meal before shows and rehearsals, and a nap when I can get away with it. I get really grumpy if I don’t eat right. Just ask Murray.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
“Roosevelt was right when he said, “There is nothing to fear but fear itself.” We have paid dearly for our paranoia.” It was about an article on slate.com about the true costs of 9-11.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“The Trials and Tribulations of Living Small in a Big World”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
Not a thing. “I was born this way” (thank you Lady Gaga)
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
That death does not have the last word, and that at the end of things, there will be wonderful surprises.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
I miss ACT-UP.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
To see my father again.
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
Can’t think of one.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
“Parting Glances” made a big impression on me coming out. So did “Torch Song Trilogy,” but that was because I had a big crush on Matthew Broderick.
What’s the most overrated social custom?
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
I really admire the work of those actors I know who have won the Helen Hayes award.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
That it gets better.
I came here to work at the Smithsonian as a pre-doctoral fellow, and just stayed. And I love the theater scene here.