When actor Eric Anthony was a kid, he enjoyed having everyone’s attention. His mom enrolled him in the historic Arena Players’ youth theatre program, where his passion for performing grew. Now, that rambunctious pre-teen is grown up with a professional career that has led him to star on Broadway in The Lion King, Hairspray and Mary Poppins.
Anthony has returned home to Baltimore for a month-long staging of popular Wizard of Oz adaptation, The Wiz, and can be seen performing as Scarecrow at Centerstage through Nov. 7.
AFRO: How did you become interested in acting?
Eric Anthony: I think it’s a combination of a lot of stuff. The story goes, when I was 18 months old, my grandfather, Baxter “Peanut” Jones, use to own a candy store on Edmonson Avenue and at 18 months, I would be at the candy store dancing and singing on the counter top. The customers would come in and pay me change to perform. This is the story from my mother, my grandfather and my family…Definitely before I knew I was performing or making a choice to be a performer, I was already doing it.
AFRO: What was is like to perform at the Arena Players when you were 8?
EA: I remember all the kids. I remember being in heaven. It was so much fun that I was at a program with a whole bunch of other people singing, dancing and acting. At the end of the summer we would put on a show…The woman who runs the theater’s name is Catherine Orange… I love her so much because she always encouraged me. Even when I first started there I felt like she noticed me from the very beginning.
AFRO: You also played Scarecrow when you were 15. What it different now compared to then?
EA: When I was Scarecrow at Arena Players my dog played Toto, which was really cool… I had a crush on Dorothy…It was just so much fun and here we were doing this show that like sold out the Arena Players. Everybody came to see it and really for me, I think that’s when I knew I was good at what I did. made a character and it wasn’t me and really discovered that I was an actor.
AFRO: How does it feel to come back to Baltimore and reprise the role at Centerstage?
EA: To this day, still is my favorite part in any play I ever played and wanted to be in. So the fact that I get to see my dream come true in Baltimore, it’s kind of mind boggling…It feels like the biggest blessing in the world.
For more information about the play, visit centerstage.org. Follow Anthony at Twitter.com/ericbanthony.