Reviews & Validations
Chris is one of the most dedicated and versatile artists I have ever met. ... I have worked with him as an instructor, coach, and director for three years and still marvel at his ability to create in original, deeply personal ways. He is an affable, tireless contributor to any project. ...Chris is that rare individual who combines the gifts of a very fine performer with exceptional teaching expertise. ... Chris is a sophisticated, charismatic actor.
Richard Warner, Associate Professor, Head of Performance
Univeristy of Virginia (2002)

I have known Chris on and off for many years and know him to be versatile, hardworking, dependable, and easy to get along with.  Last year I saw Chris’ performance as Jesus in the Italian folk opera  Stabat Mater: Donna De Paradiso at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City.  Chris sang the role in Italian and Latin and gave a most powerful and moving performance.

Tom O’Horgan, February 26, 1999
Only Director to have 4 productions running simutaneously on Broadway:
Hair, Lenny, Jesus Christ Superstar and Inner City

Food for the soul….a world class performer.
Ray Shell, actor/singer, writer, producer;
original "Rusty" in the London West End Starlight Express
Chris Van Cleave is special. His music is magical, inspiring and transformational.
Larry Dossey, MD. author of Healing Words,
Beyond Illness
and Reinventing Medicine.
With timelessly crafted songs as powerfully emotive as "Laugh With You" and "Simply Love" and a voice that simultaneously encompasses the power of Scott Walker with the tenderness of Jackson Browne, Van Cleave would be rubbing shoulders with Nanci Griffith and Lyle Lovett if justice and talent were the deciding factor in the music business.
Johnny Black, music journalist
(Q Magazine, Insight, Hi Fi News)

Chris Van Cleave is arguably the most talented and popular musical theater performer in Hampton Roads. He is an excellent actor, musician, and vocalist with a slew of international, national, and local credits, as well as honors; including Port Folio Weekly's Critic's Choice as Best performer in a Musical in 1997.... I have seen his work at ...[various theatres], where entire highly professional productions have been built around his skill.
Robert P. Arthur: poet, playwright, novelist, lyricist, and jounalist.

This past summer (2009) Chris and I worked once again on a production of Stonewall Country, its first revival in five years, and my second time directing it.   … the production was to be very much scaled down, a reading, and with all of the music played and sung by its composers, Robin and Linda Williams.  The rehearsal period was an incredibly brief four days!  Chris …  did not have the songs to enhance the character – yet he pulled off an amazing performance, just as he had years before.   In observing Chris with a company, I find him incredibly warm and giving, not just as an actor but as a mentor as well.

In short, this man is the embodiment of the word professional – always prepared, always dedicated, and never satisfied.  He is always welcome in my cast, and if I ever have the opportunity to hire him I will.

Robert W. H. Mish, Director: Lenfest Center for the Arts
Adjunct Professor of Theater: Washington and Lee University,
Lexington, Virginia

Van Cleave's voice is clear and expressive, providing fertile ground for his lush lyrical landscape....With a range that slides easily from bass to tenor, he is compared to Gordon Lightfoot, John Denver, or Dan Fogelberg. For relaxing and insightful music, I recommend the beautiful "Lavender White," the lifting "Riddle of the River," and a cool-pickin' instrumental "Mystic Mountain Moogie."
Eric Worden, Port Folio Weekly (February 3-9, 1998) DJ, WPTE 94.9 FM (Norfolk, VA)
If you want to tell someone how deeply you love them but can't find the words, let singer/songwriter Van Cleave do it for you. These soulful, sweet tunes not only express romantic amour in a way that could not be more to the point, but also parental, spiritual, and other flavors of deep love. It takes real courage and truly being in touch with one's most interior sensibilities to say these things so directly and profoundly. ...A rich candescence one can take to heart and soul.
...superb performers who are having so much fun the audience can't help but be pulled into it. Christopher Van Cleave [is] the Pirate King....he's such a dashing Pirate King you'd think the maidens would be falling over each other to be carried off....This show is a joy to see, to hear, and yell "Bravo" for.
New Lyric Theatre (Charlottesville, VA)
Clare Aukofer, The Daily Progress (May 7, 2000)
It is no small feat for an actor to play Jesus convincingly, and Chris Van Cleave did just that. The performance was a credit to both the actor and the director..[Van] Cleave stood out vocally and dramatically....
David Connelly, Shreveport Journal
Chris Van Cleave and Jane Simms...a beautiful job playing Jesus and Mary.
A thunderous standing ovation rolled from the nearly sold-out audience onto the Century II stage when the top three principals--Jesus, Judas and Mary Magdalene--took their bows.
Bob Curtwright, The Wichita Eagle and Beacon
The songs are difficult for singers, but Carden has found five who can handle even Bernstein's wide-ranging score....Chris Van Cleave has an excellent voice and strong acting skills. Most importantly, every word is understandable.
Act I and Piedmont Virginia Community College, Charlottesville, VA
Clare Aukofer, The Daily Progress (April 16, 2002)
Personal Validation
Ray Shell, actor/singer, writer, producer, director:
original "Rusty" in the London West End cast of
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Starlight Express,
as well as original London casts of Ain't Misbehavin, Miss Saigon,
Children of Eden, The Lion King,
and Five Guys Named Moe.

As a performer Chris is world class.

As well as performing with him nightly and sharing the many positive (dare I say ecstatic) reviews our company garnered as we traveled around the U.K., I watched him give a riveting performance of the French Police chief [Javert] in the West End production of Les Miserables.

Chris is multi-talented: as well as being an actor, singer, writer, he is a virtuoso on the guitar and is (pardon my French) a kick-ass record producer.
He has been a supportive friend, speaking his mind even if I didn’t quite like what he had to say; I could trust his views, which in this era of spin-doctoring is something quite rare.

His experience and professionalism would be beneficial to any young person wanting to be a part of this difficult and often dispiriting profession; the fact that he is still a working performer is a testament of his talent, ambition and endurance.

He is patient, reliable, a great listener and has a huge repertoire of jokes guaranteed to crack you up no matter how dark the day.

If I had to choose one of Chris’ many special qualities, it would have to be his sensitivity. He can look at a situation and immediately know what it needs, as well as what needs to be said and done.
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