He plays several roles, including farmer Homer Zuckerman and an old sheep. And that’s just fine with actor Brian Anthony Wilson, now appearing in the Joseph Robinette adaptation of the beloved novel “Charlotte’s Web,” continuing through Jan.29 at the Arden Theatre.
According to Wilson, whether playing a human or an animal (and sometimes both) is as rewarding as any other role he could get. This production is his seventh appearance at the Arden, and his first at the Arden’s Children’s Theatre.
“But I do believe an actor is an actor, so no matter what character you’re playing, you try to make them as believable as possible,” Wilson said. “I always do some research about the character to give me a clue into his personality. Of course, the script is always the bible we use, but there are also clues as to what the characters say and why they say it. That’s thanks to good writing and the director.”
“Charlotte’s Web” is a heartwarming story of a special friendship between a loveable pig, Wilbur, and everyone’s favorite spider, Charlotte. Additionally, it helps celebrate unexpected friendship while introducing themes of loss and life cycles to children in an honest, open way.
“I think that’s what separates the Arden from other theaters, because we try to be as real and honest as we can,” said Wilson. “And after every performance, children participate in a post-show question and answer session with the cast.”
Wilson, who was born and bred in Philadelphia, explains that he was a “late bloomer,” and didn’t come to acting until he went to Freedom Theatre for some vocal training while he was a member of a local band.
“As part of the vocal training, everyone had to also take a movement and a theater class,” he said. “So I did that, got the acting bug, and the very next semester enrolled in the acting program. I was only in class for two weeks when I got cast in a play and received, what you would probably call, on-the-job training. I took classes for the next four years and was in any number of plays. I was 23 years old.”
Since that time, Wilson has done stage, film and TV. His favorite TV/film roles include appearances in “Law & Order: SVU,“ “The Wire,“ “Hack” and “The Sopranos.“
Local favorites include “Superior Donuts” and “Fences” at the Arden, “The Piano Lesson” at Bushfire, and “King Hedley II” at the Philadelphia Theater Company, admittedly his most favorite of all.
“I’ve also done a soap opera — ‘As The World Turns.’ And I think everything I’ve done has been good experience, and that I’ve been very blessed to be able to do it all,” the actor said. “And while the money is much better in films, if I had to pick just one thing, it would probably be appearing on stage. I love the live feedback you get that could only happen then and there.”
As for other young, budding actors, Wilson advises them to act whenever they can and see everything they can see. “If you want to be a film actor, go see as many good films as you can. And if you want to be a stage actor, go see as many good plays as possible.
“And it’s very important to get training, and to study your craft with as many different teachers as you can. For me, it’s when I didn’t get cast in a role that I tried to understand why. You have to have tough skin in this business. Learn to deal with it and continue on.”
For times and ticket information, call (215) 922-1122.