From a very early age Robert Creighton pictured himself most often as the goaltender for the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs. He grew up the son of a local doctor and nurse, and the youngest of six children, in the small town of Walkerton, Ontario.
His sporting dreams coexisted with the ones of someday dancing like Fred Astaire and being an actor on Broadway, whatever that meant to a lad living in rural Ontario. The Astaire passion shifted to James Cagney later in life, and while sports remain a big part of Robert’s life, any professional aspirations were, to understate it, a little far fetched!
For seven years as a boy he was part of the St. Michael’s Boys Choir and toured England at age nine singing in such magnificent places as Windsor Castle and Southwark Cathedral. This provided an excellent musical foundation upon which he would continue to build throughout his formative years including dozens of competitive music festivals in voice, piano, and trumpet.
The acting bug took deep and irrefutable hold when in tenth grade he participated in a community theatre production of Oliver! with the Grey-Wellington Theatre Guild in nearby Harriston. At the auditions he was sure he wanted to play the role of Oliver, the title character, and was (briefly) disappointed when he was cast by the wise British director as the Artflul Dodger. Happily, it’s been character roles ever since!
At age fifteen he moved away to attend Grenville Christian College, a private boarding school renowned not only for its academic excellence but for its musical training and high quality Gilbert & Sullivan productions in which Robert perennially starred.
Before his senior year at High School he spent a summer at the Banff Center School of Fine Arts in the magnificent Canadian Rockies. It was a vital time in his development as this is where he got to mingle and perform with some of Canada’s finest musical theatre talent (all of whom were older than him) and it was also where he was introduced to tap dancing! This was the beginning of a life long love affair with that art form. During that summer he learned only a handful of steps but practiced them over and over, often into the wee hours of the night, so he could do them fast and furiously! Refinement of the skills came later but the passion was confirmed.
Following high school Robert was anxious and determined to get to Toronto or New York to begin his career but on advice from those he respected, he decided that if he was going to be in show business for the long haul, solid training was in order. This lead to a BA in vocal performance from Wilfrid Laurier University with a minor in English. Those years studying classical music were valuable, to say the least, but his desire to live in New York City and be on Broadway was an ever-present pull.
The summer following his freshman year at Laurier, he was cast once again as the Artful Dodger (not the last time either!) at Rainbow Stage in Winnipeg, Manitoba and in a bit part in Sweet Charity. Several important things occurred as a result. He gained his Equity card and began his journey as a professional, and he met two people who would serve as early mentors in his career. The director was Alan Lund, one of the foremost musical theatre directors in Canada (having directed the original Anne of Green Gables in Charlottetown, a Canadian institution to this day!) for whom he would work several times in the next few years. And in the production was fellow actor (soon to be director) Alex Mustakas, who a year later would cast him in his first play and one of his favorite roles as Eugene Morris Jerome in Brighton Beach Memoirs and for whom he has gone home to Canada to work countless times at Drayton Entertainment.
Summer stock continued between each school year and University life included everything from performing in his doo-wop group the WeeBops, to stand up comedy as alter ego Ernest Finklestien, to the local Gilbert & Sullivan Society productions and a brass quintet. All great training, and all while longing to get to New York!
After a four-month stint following graduation as a Liaison Officer (Recruiter) for WLU, and a summer stock production at Huron Country Playhouse, he was off to begin his studies in NYC at the prestigious American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
This was a phenomenal time of growth over the next three years immersing himself not only in his training, but in the best educational opportunity of all…seeing every type of theatre, opera, dance, gallery, etc etc, that New York City had to offer!
Between school years at AADA Robert returned to perform in the inaugural and second season at Drayton Festival Theatre in Ontario, which offered some more wonderful professional experience being directed by Alex Mustakas and Alan Lund in various productions.
AADA was a program for which you had to audition to be accepted and then invited back for each year. The first year class had over two hundred students, down to sixty-four in the second year and for Robert, the amazing opportunity to be one of eighteen in The Graduate Company which was much more performance focused for the purpose of being showcased to agents and casting directors.
As a result, he signed with an agent (Fifi Oscard & Associates) right out of school and did his first professional play in the United States, S.N. Behrman’s END OF SUMMER with the Phoenix Theatre Co. in NY, just a couple of months later.
Thus began a decade of dozens of wonderful opportunities to do shows both in New York and regionally including such highlights as: Peter Pan in PETER PAN, Artful Dodger in OLIVER, Eddie Ryan in FUNNY GIRL, Nicely Nicely in GUYS AND DOLLS all at Paper Mill Playhouse; Og in FINIAN’S RAINBOW at Goodspeed; Tobias in SWEENEY TODD at St. Louis Rep/Cincinnati Playhouse; and two seasons with New York City Opera where the highlight came as Njegus in THE MERRY WIDOW
which was broadcast Live from Lincoln Center; he played Goody King in the original North American tour of FAME and was part of the original LION KING company in Toronto and subsequently Los Angeles.
In 2003 he was cast in his first Broadway show conceived by and starring the comedian Jackie Mason, called LAUGHING ROOM ONLY. It played a few months in Nyack, NY and then moved to Broadway in the fall where it previewed for four weeks and then ended abruptly two weeks after its opening night. It was, nonetheless, a highlight and a fulfillment of a dream to finally have made it to the great white way!
This began a series of Broadway shows including CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG, THE LITTLE MERMAID
, LION KING, CHICAGO and ANYTHING GOES. During this time he began some episodic work on television including guest starring appearances on LAW AND ORDER
and LIFE ON MARS
. He maintains a voice over career including spots for: AT&T, Verizon, Splenda, Port Authority of NY, Buffalo Wild Wings and others. His voice can be heard in two recent feature films as a Singing Thug in Disney’s animated feature TANGLED, and The Nutcracker as side kick to John Turturro’s Rat King! He has participated in countless readings and workshops of new musicals and continues to perform regionally, most notably as James Cagney in the show he conceived and co-authored, CAGNEY!
CAGNEY! won Florida’s 2010 Carbonell award for “Best New Work” and has set box office records in two of its three productions to date. It is Robert’s dream to bring this show to Broadway and perform this role in New York City in the very near future.