He'll make you laugh, cry and laugh again. Ian Knauer is Crushin' It.

By Kimberly Dijkstra

Performing and traveling are the two things that Ian Knauer loves to do the most. Fortunately, he has been able to do both as a professional actor. Starting out at age 11 in “The Sound of Music” at a dinner theater in his hometown of Toledo, Ohio, Knauer went on to perform on and off-Broadway, in film and television, in national and European tours, and a number of regional theater shows in both the US and UK.

“There’s something about telling a story on stage to a group of many people each night, sometimes twice a day, that is extremely challenging, and it’s also a gift for us to be able to do,” Knauer said about his profession. “Throw in some music and singing and dancing, then that’s even better.”

In the earlier years of his career, Knauer most often played the young song-and-dance man like Billy Lawlor in “42nd Street.” Over time, he’s transitioned rather easily to mainly character parts – from Roger De Bris in “The Producers” to Lord Evelyn in “Anything Goes.”

In a career filled with many “amazing, remarkable, fantastic moments,” Knauer pinpoints a highlight – being invited to sing “Til I Hear You Sing” at a concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

“I was singing with a 50-piece orchestra. It was possibly the most spectacular moment being on a stage in my life,” he said.

When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down theater and everything else deemed non-essential last March, the theater community was hit hard and has been struggling ever since. Like many others, Knauer had to reassess his place in the world as a performer.

“What was really confronting was I knew I loved [performing], I knew I loved making a living from it, but I just wasn’t aware of how much of a sense of purpose it gave me,” Knauer explained.

During the pandemic, Ian gave back by lending his talents to various fundraiser events for regional theaters and non-profit organizations. He also learned to preserve memories.

Many of us talk about digitizing our old family videos, Ian actually used his COVID time to preserve his memories. That hobby quickly turned into a business.

“One of my goals…was to help people who are like me and have videos and DVDs that they want to be able to see, but don’t have the ability,” he explained. “It’s great because I can do it here in my home, so it’s safe, and people either mail me their box of videos, or I meet them on the street so it was easy to be socially distant.”

Knauer has filmed a cabaret, “Hollywood, Hollywood: Musical Hits of the Silver Screen,” with the Annapolis Shakespeare Company, aka The Classic Theater of Maryland, which will be available on-demand online from June 17th through July 16th.

The tides of the pandemic are turning and theaters across the country are gearing up for their return. Ian is excited.

“I’m ready to get back out there and to affect people’s lives again. It will be amazing.”

 

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