Ann Crumb, Who Starred in ‘Aspects of Love,’ Is Dead at 69


Ann Crumb, the actress and singer who starred in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Aspects of Love” in both London and New York, died on Thursday at her parents’ home in Media, Pa., a suburb of Philadelphia. She was 69.

Kevin McAnarney, her publicist, said the cause was ovarian cancer, which was diagnosed in 2015.

Ms. Crumb starred in “Aspects of Love” when it opened in London in 1989. It was said that she was the first American cast in a lead role in an original production of a Lloyd Webber musical. She reprised the role in the Broadway production, which opened the next year.

The musical’s story, a three-generational European saga, focused on a French actress, Rose Vibert, and her sexual attraction to her husband, her husband’s young nephew and her husband’s mistress.

It was her most visible role, but not her most lauded.

Her most honored Broadway appearance was the title role in a 1992 musical adaptation of Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina.” Although Mel Gussow of The New York Times found Ms. Crumb too strident for the character, who throws away her reputation for the sake of a grand passion, Tony Awards insiders disagreed and nominated Ms. Crumb for best lead actress in a musical.

Elizabeth Ann Crumb was born in Charleston, W.Va., on May 25, 1950, the daughter of the composer George Crumb, who would win a Pulitzer Prize for music in 1968, and Elizabeth May (Brown) Crumb, a violinist.

Ann studied violin and hoped for a concert career, but that plan was derailed when she was in her teens and injured her right arm in a fall from a horse. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music and theater at the University of Michigan but began a career in clinical medicine instead, doing some acting and singing on the side.

While working as a clinician in Philadelphia, she appeared to have a change of heart and was soon off on the national tour of “El Grande de Coca-Cola,” a musical farce about a Mexican cabaret.

She made her Broadway debut shortly before turning 37 in the original cast of “Les Misérables” (1987). She was an ensemble member whose characters were listed in Playbill as Factory Girl/Whore/Other Drinker/Young Prostitute. In 1988 she joined the ensemble of “Chess.”

In the London production of “Aspects of Love,” an onstage accident on a moving walkway severely damaged her foot. Doctors questioned whether she would walk again. She did, but despite numerous operations and specially designed shoes for the New York run, the injury caused her lifelong pain.

After “Anna Karenina,” her last Broadway appearance, she pursued her theater career outside New York. In 1992 she starred with Jonathan Pryce and Elaine Page in a concert performance of “Nine,” recording a double CD at the Royal Concert Hall in London. She starred in London in a musical version of the movie “The Goodbye Girl.” She headlined a concert tour devoted to the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber and starred opposite John Cullum in the 1995 national tour of “Man of La Mancha.”

In 2010 she played Norma Desmond, the former silent screen star sinking into madness, in “Sunset Boulevard” at the Arvada Center near Denver; it was one of the first regional productions of that Lloyd Webber show. Back in Philadelphia, she appeared in the Polly Pen musical “Bed and Sofa” (1999), played Maria Callas in Terrence McNally’s “Master Class” (2010) and portrayed the sardonic aunt in Jon Robin Baitz’s “Other Desert Cities” (2014).

She is survived by her parents and two brothers, David Crumb, a composer, and Peter Crumb.

An animal activist, Ms. Crumb was a founder of the Rescue Express, a nonprofit organization that transports and helps find foster homes for dogs and cats.

“I’ve always had a special love for dogs,” she said in a 2010 interview. “I think I was a dachshund in a past life.”

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