Phantom of the Suburbs

How a Broadway great found a normal life as a Las Vegas headliner

Photo by Kim Sherwood Schofield/Creative Vision Communications

Photo by Kim Sherwood Schofield/Creative Vision Communications

Tony Award-winner Anthony Crivello is one of the few Las Vegas stars you’d never recognize at the grocery store. In fact, his transformation from human to Phantom is so complete that during VIP tours, people comment that he wasn’t in the show. It’s not just the makeup, latex prosthetics, bald cap and wig that alter his appearance, but the character acting as well. After watching such a tortured soul onstage, meeting the vibrant and fun actor is almost shocking. The athletic Crivello has a surprising sense of humor and a wise-guy personality. Here’s a little more about the man behind the half-mask.

How does the makeup feel?

There’s a certain grind because I am putting makeup on my face six times a week, and in the summer months it’s like wearing a thermal blanket on your head. But on the positive side, you watch yourself be transformed night after night. And so that becomes part of the process of getting into character.

What’s your day-to-day life?

You know, there’s that sort of wonderful mundane side of life that is just family. The day-to-day is literally what goes with maintaining a household.

Because we’re in a single city, it afforded the opportunity to bring my family here. If I was on a road tour, there was no way I could have done it. After a period of time, we finally bought a home. The roots are now in Vegas, and we’re going to stay here for a while.

From a creative standpoint, besides this show I’ve been trying to put my fingers in a couple of other pies. I write as well. I’ve got a development thing going on with [two] writing projects. It’s a little bit of artistic yah yahs in different directions.

Culturally, how does it feel to be in Las Vegas versus the East Coast?

Well, Vegas has a lot of growing to do. Unfortunately, the economy has affected some of the progress that was being made. The arts used to be immune to the vast majority of economic changes and I don’t think it is anymore. It’s surprising that there are shows that are still open, frankly, in this economic climate, because it becomes that much more of a risk and there’s a lot of competition here. … Second City couldn’t survive in this climate and it’s a shame, because Vegas becomes a benchmark city for the Second City companies and for improv.

Do you feel a part of an artistic community here?

There’s a lot of creative types here. And one of the great things about Vegas is that it will draw an eclectic mix—everything from acrobats to jugglers to comics to rock ’n’ roll bands.

When did you first perform?

When I was a kid in the lower east side of Milwaukee, I was a Cub Scout with these Italian den mothers. They decided they were going to put on a play. The play they were going to do was Pocahontas and John Smith. I was 9 years old. You’re looking at Pocahontas.

What else makes you tick?

We’re all products of our own experiences, and my background was one of an inner-city boy. And I’m an Italian boy, a Sicilian boy, so I draw from that. There’s a great well of strength from my childhood. Even in my acting work—in my singing and performance, too—that’s what I draw from.

Is there anything you aspire to?

I have a lot of passion in a lot of different ways creatively. I want to get on the other side of the creative table, as far as writing and directing. I think there are a few roles that are still in me, but I don’t know what they are.

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