Dishing the laughs
If you only know Jonathan Crombie as boy-next-door Gilbert Blythe in the CBC Anne Of Green Gables series, you're missing a lot of his talent. His true love's sketch comedy (he's part of the troupe Skippy's Rangers), and he can mix the laughs with a dose of musical comedy, too, as he's shown in The Drowsy Chaperone, Ouch My Toe and All Hams On Deck.
And then there are the several years he spent performing at Stratford.
He's back in a straight role in Morris Panych 's The Dishwashers , playing Emmett, a down-on-his-luck high roller who finds himself cleaning plates in the very restaurant in which he once dined.
"Emmett's constantly trying to better himself, though for the moment he's burrowed into the basement dishwashing room to hide from the world," notes the affable Crombie. "Always driven, he's different from Dressler, another employee who has a more Zen approach to life.
"A lot of the play is that dance between them, whether you should resist or accept the moment."
Crombie's not playing the role with the jokes and punchlines he brings to his sketch work, for he knows "there are moments of despair and the giving of grace in the show. It requires a special style that allows the truths to come through but is still surreal, a kind of heightened realism.
"I admit that I like to mug shamelessly, but that's not appropriate here, where the characters are facing desperate situations and stakes. The comedy has to emerge from the situation; we can't put our own spin on it."