May 20, 2007

JBB EXCLUSIVE: Howard Tucker Interviews Craig Laurie!

May 20th, 2007

Photos courtesy of

Jersey Boys Blog is excited to present Special Correspondent Howard Tucker’s interview with Craig Laurie, who is playing Bob Crewe in the new Jersey Boys San Francisco/Chicago company!

HT: Well, as I live and breathe, I get to chat with my neighbor and old friend from Staten Island. Craig, how did you land the role of Bob Crewe?

CL: When I first saw “Jersey Boys” in previews, I didn’t quite think I fit any of the characters. But my agent actually put me in for one of the roles unbeknownst to me.

HT: I can tell you it wasn’t the role of Frankie Valli. I think I look more like Frankie than you do!

CL: You’re giving me some competition as the comedian here, Howard. OK, it wasn’t Frankie Valli. It was Nick Massi.

HT: You do sort of look like Bobby Spencer. How is it that Nick Massi evolved into Bob Crewe?

CL: When I was in the room, the assistant music director asked to vocalize me down to see if I could hit Nick Massi’s bass vocals. I am a tenor so I did not get too far down! The casting director and assistant music director looked at each other and asked if I would like to read for Bob Crewe. They gave me the script and after some callbacks, that was it.

HT: Well, Craig, we’re not in Newark anymore. How have you adapted to Bob Crewe in San Francisco? Have you met the real Bob Crewe or any of the Four Seasons? Any advice from Peter Gregus and John Altieri, the Broadway and National Tour Bob Crewes?

CL: Haven’t met Bob Crewe yet but I’m hoping to soon. Peter and John have been great…giving me major support and advice. Frankie and Bob Gaudio have been at our auditions and Bob Gaudio came to the final run-through in NY. He was very kind and told all of us we were in great shape and in particular, that I captured the spirit of Bob Crewe.

HT: How does the new San Francisco/Chicago Company differ from the Broadway and national tour shows?

CL: There aren’t many differences at all. We are very lucky in that Des McAnuff has guided the show into a well-oiled machine where all the kinks have been worked out with the set, lights, and costume changes, etc. There are some differences in costumes though…especially mine. They are more colorful than the Broadway Crewe costumes.

HT: I thought Des had moved on to Canada.

CL: This is still his show, and he’s involved with every aspect of it.

HT: Have you read the recent comments on the various blogs about your performance? The remarks are very favorable.

CL: I definitely appreciate the kind comments and smiling faces at the stage door, but I have to put both the positives and the negatives in perspective. I can’t be too self-conscious or I won’t give my full concentration to the work at hand.

HT: How did you become interested in show business? Are your parents or either of your sisters-I understand you’re one of a triplet-in the biz?

CL: No, in fact my sister, Kimberly, works with a clothing designer and my sister, Corinne, is a teacher. My mom and dad encouraged me greatly in my musical career with so much support and love (even when my mom would force me to practice!). I went to High School for the Performing Arts in Manhattan, majoring in piano and oboe.

HT: How did that evolve into theatre?

CL: In my junior year of high school, I was asked to join a community theatre production in our own Snug Harbor on Staten Island, and from then on, I was bitten!

HT: What have been some of your other roles, Craig?

CL: I was with the off-Broadway hit “Forbidden Broadway” for a couple of years and in national productions of “Chicago” and “Miss Saigon” and “Music of the Night” with Michael Bolton. I’ve also been in numerous regional theatre productions including a production of “Grease” at Stages St. Louis with Christopher Kale Jones (Frankie in the national tour) and Derek Keeling (third in NBC-TV’s “Grease” audition) Derek was Danny; Chris was Doody; and I was Sonny.

HT: Aha, to quote our own Frankie Valli, “Grease is the word!” I actually thought Derek should have won the NBC competition; he seemed to really capture the essence of Danny Zuko. And I can indeed picture Chris as Doody and you as Sonny.

CL: We had such a fantastic time working with each other and doing Grease. But I’ve never seen audience enthusiasm as I see in “Jersey Boys!”

I haven’t either, Craig, and I’ve seen well over 100 shows and “Jersey Boys” seven times. My generation, the baby boomers, remembers all the music, but I think it’s a particularly strong book that does it.

I’ve seen “Good Vibrations,” “All Shook Up,” and “Lennon,” and all had good music libraries, but weaker books than the “Jersey Boys.” And I still can’t believe “Jersey Boys” didn’t beat “Drowsy” for the best book at the Tony’s!

CL: I think the book makes it too, Howard. “Jersey Boys” is constructed so well. Rick Elice and Marshall Brickman did an amazing job. Also, Des’s direction is so smart and creative and then there is the music. When I first saw “Jersey Boys” in previews, I recognized so many of the songs, but didn’t know they were all Four Seasons’ hits. And I differ with you in that I enjoyed “All Shook Up.”

HT: I enjoyed Cheyenne Jackson’s “All Shook Up” performance (as I did Will Chase’s in “Lennon” and Tituss Burgess’s in “Good Vibrations”), but as I heard one “All Shook Up” character deciding whether to kiss a date and heard “It’s Now or Never” blaring, I said to myself, “This is what I paid $100 for?” “Jersey Boys” knew when to be serious.

HT: Have you worked with any other cast members?

CL: Eric Gutman (Hank Majewski and others JB national tour) in “Forbidden Broadway.” He’s a great guy.

HT: I love Eric’s blog, and his takes on the show. I really enjoyed his account of the time Tommy DeVito forgot to take his keys to the Belvedere. I’m actually going to meet him along with Chris Jones when I see the LA production on May 31st. Will your name get me through the stage door line quicker?

CL: My hand to God, you mention my name, and you’ll be outta there in 12 seconds?!! Not really; I’m sure they’ll be very gracious.

HT: Craig, you’ve been ultra-humble ever since I’ve known you from our old neighborhood of Staten Island, and I salute you for continuing to be so, even though you’ve now “hit.”

CL: Howard, I think in every profession, we need to be grounded in reality. With the ups and downs in acting and in life, I think I’ve learned not to think too much of myself, or too little either. And while I always enjoy speaking with fellow thespians, I also like hearing what lay people, like yourself, who are paying to see me, think. To make a person smile through your performance is the best feeling.

HT: Craig, I saw the original “A Chorus Line” which starred my Clifton, NJ high school classmate, Nancy Lane. The one line I’ll never forget is one of the auditioners saying, “I don’t wanna hear about how Broadway’s dying, ’cause I just got here. They’re not doing big musicals like they used to.” What’s your opinion of the future of Broadway?

CL: It’s certainly not dying, Howard, but it goes through phases. And with the success of “Jersey Boys,” “Wicked,” old favorites like “A Chorus Line,” and even smaller shows like “Spelling Bee,” the musical is certainly alive and well. And the plays are too–just witness “Doubt,” “Pillowman,” and “The Lieutenant of Inishmore.”

HT: Good news for me, too, Craig, because I just invested in Wilson Milam’s (“Inishmore”) “The Great Game”! One last question, Craig. How do I get to look more like you? Moisturizer? Tanning bed? Crest White Strips?”

CL: Howard, you look terrific as is!

HT: Man, now I know you’re an actor!! Craig, I’m thrilled for your success and you deserve a wonderful career. I can’t wait to see you on stage!

CL: Thanks for the kind words, Howard!

HT: You’re welcome, my man. Now, where are my tickets?

CL: Join me on the cancellation line next winter during the first snowstorm in Chicago!!

Jersey Boys Blog would like to thank the incredibly talented Craig Laurie and Special Correspondent Howard Tucker for this amazing interview!


  1. Great interview Howard and Craig! Both of you have a great sense of humor! I really enjoyed reading it!
    Howard, thanks for doing this interview with Craig!
    Craig, keep up the great work in Jersey Boys!

    Comment by Kathryn Hanson — May 20, 2007 @ 3:31 pm

  2. I got a chance to see Craig in “Grease,” and he did a very good job in his role. Sadly, I have yet to see him as Bob Crewe in the Second National Tour, but I do have tickets for June 4th. I hope I get a chance to meet him after the show!

    Comment by Michael Lennon — May 20, 2007 @ 3:35 pm

  3. Howard,

    What a great interview with Criag! I am thinking as Hank Majewski did not say, “Maybe you shouldn’t keep your day job.” You are a great journalist and need no “Guidance.” Great job, my dear friend. IE

    Comment by Irene Eizen — May 20, 2007 @ 10:36 pm

  4. Howard, great interview ! Looking forward to see the Jersey Boys in Germany…..Reiner

    Comment by Reiner Bussmann — May 21, 2007 @ 12:07 am

  5. pleasure meeting you howard, and you are the true expert on the jersey boys, a true broadway fan and a great writer.

    Comment by jim petrecca — May 21, 2007 @ 12:31 am

  6. Howard:

    This is cool! I have an original 45 rpm record…Music to Watch Girls By, by the Bob Crewe Generation. I also remember the song was used in a lot of TV commercials. Can’t remember what the product was, but I do remember the song. I also was a big Mitch Ryder fan in the late sixties into the seventies. I think Bob Crewe discovered them. I have the 45 Jenny Take a Ride and the album Mitch Ryder’s Detroit. But….they aren’t Jersey Boys are they?? It seems to me Bob Crewe was involved with them and the record label.

    Comment by jeff longenecker — May 21, 2007 @ 7:51 am

  7. Howard,

    What a very fun,entertaining, and insightful interview. Keep up the good work!

    Comment by Bob I. — May 21, 2007 @ 9:56 am

  8. This is a great interview guys, although it sounds more like a conversation amongst two old friends, which doesn’t surprise me since you’re both funny and outgoing. Craig, I’m very happy that you hit so early and wish you the best in what promises to be a great career. Howard, I can’t wait to hear some behind the scenes stories at tax time.

    Comment by Ed — May 21, 2007 @ 10:39 am

  9. Excellent interview Howard & Craig! Very insightful and informative, because we fans don’t hear much about our favorite Broadway stars, their past experiences and behind the scenes goings on.

    Also, thanks to Craig for your time and kind consideration to us after the Mother’s Day show at the Curran. On stage, your portrayal of Bob Crewe was spot on and at the stage door, you are just as friendly and considerate! Thanks for signing our Playbill! We’re just the “Jersey Girls” short of completing our National Tour II autographed playbill…..

    Good luck in your career and I’ll be seeing you guys again this Wednesday!

    Comment by Mike B. Magbaleta — May 21, 2007 @ 1:11 pm

  10. Howard,

    Got a kick out of your humor in the interview. Qunitessential (sp?) Howard! Thanks for making me laugh.

    You and Craig mentioned “the future of Broadway” in the interview – it really caught my attention. We need to expose younger folks to Broadway more. Kids are so…”plugged-in” to gadgets these days. They have little experience with live human entertainment. While substitute teaching recently, I noticed how kids had trouble connecting with each other because they were interacting with cell phones, i-Pods, etc. Maybe Jersey Boys could have a “bring your kid to Broadway” Day special sometime. It is our duty to pass on such traditions.

    Great job. Thanks Howard and Craig!

    Comment by Bron — May 21, 2007 @ 9:30 pm

  11. Quick…what do you do when you want to get away?

    - Get in the car and start driving?
    - Go the airport and buy a ticket?
    - Reserve a room at a spa/hotel for the weekend?


    Read an interview with Howard Tucker?!?!?

    He’ll go for it every time…asking the questions that matter, and (seemingly) listens to the answers. As I read this interview with Craig, I felt whisked away to somewhere else.

    I am honored, and excited, to join Howard on May 31st here in my home-town of Los Angeles. Some time ago, he worked his magic and found two more tickets to the show for me and my wife. (I did say to him that he might have wanted to meet me before he got the tickets! We made that happen on the last visit I made to NYC…fortunately, we all got along!)

    To Howard and Craig, thank you very, very much for sitting down and putting this together for us. It is a relief to read something that is “real.” I get the feeling that what you’re discussing is really “all about life,” and that’s inspiring to me.

    Comment by Jason — May 22, 2007 @ 9:54 am

  12. Howard, Are you sure, you weren’t a comedian in a previous life. I think you are missing your calling, have you ever thought of doing stand up?

    Comment by Jackie HillFigaro — May 22, 2007 @ 10:03 am

  13. Jackie

    Paraphrasing a line from JB slightly “Don’t get him started.” It is hard to believe his day job is as a practicing CPA. Howard, you are the best.

    Comment by David Cace — May 22, 2007 @ 11:12 am

  14. Being serious for a minute, I truly thank all of you who have taken precious time from your day to read the article and post comments. The response is more than I ever would have imagined. And, of course a very special thanks goes to Craig Laurie; to quote Bob Gaudio, “It wouldn’t have happened”–without Craig! Thanks all.

    Comment by Howard Tucker — May 22, 2007 @ 12:33 pm

  15. Howard,

    Thanks for the kind words about our “fantastic fan interview”! Good to see that there are probably 100,000′s of Jersey Boys fans on Earth and even more, after they’ve experienced it in person.

    I also truly enjoy reading your contributions and interviews as well. I’m a creative writer at heart and have learned a lot more about writing from you by reading your posts.

    Tomorrow night, I’ll see Jersey Boys once more and will definitely mention you if I see Craig again at the stage door. (Still trying to get this group of “Jersey Girls” to sign my Nat’l Tour II Playbill to complete the “cycle”…..)

    Thanks again,
    Mike B. Magbaleta

    Comment by Mike B. Magbaleta — May 22, 2007 @ 12:50 pm

  16. Well, Howard… I think I’m the only person on the continent who has not yet commented on this great interview. I love every reference to the script that you skillfully molded into this. (I’ve begun to think ‘in Jersey Boys’ language myself with so many lines fitting into everyday conversation… too many if you ask my husband :)

    Craig, your philosophy of not thinking too little of yourself nor too much… are excellent words for all of us to live by. I certainly hope to see you on stage before long. Maybe in that cancellation line during the next Chicago snowstorm… enjoy it all!

    Comment by Audrey — May 22, 2007 @ 1:26 pm

  17. This is wonderful guys, one of the best interviews i’ve ever read. Both you guys always look excellent, and have even bigger personalities. I can’t wait to see you in person in the role, Craig and for you to do my taxes next year Howard

    Comment by Timothy Ottley — May 22, 2007 @ 2:10 pm

  18. Keep it up fellas you guys are great.

    Comment by Timothy Ottley — May 22, 2007 @ 2:11 pm

  19. Hi, Howard,

    I see that are a few of us thinking you have other talents which are under – utilized. Howard, the comedian; Howard, the journalist;
    Howard, the interviewer.

    So when you retire from the banking business, for you there are three ways out.

    You can join the press.

    You can become a comedian.

    You can be a star – have your own talk show.

    It’s a gift , Howard and you have so many of them. IE

    Comment by Irene Eizen — May 22, 2007 @ 2:38 pm

  20. Howard! Great interview…very entertaining! Larry King has been doing it for 50years, why not start now?:)

    Comment by Braden — May 25, 2007 @ 12:29 pm

  21. Howard –

    You seen to know the Jerseyboy and down neck Newark quite well. Have you ever thought about being a heavy Bob Newhart? Great interview.

    Steve S

    Comment by Steve Steinbergher — May 25, 2007 @ 6:10 pm

  22. Howard –

    You seen to know the Jerseyboys and down neck Newark quite well. Have you ever thought about being a heavy Bob Newhart? Great interview.

    Comment by Steve Steinbergher — May 25, 2007 @ 6:11 pm

  23. Howard

    Excellent Interview!!!

    I can’t wait to see you on your own talk show!!

    You would be great!!


    Comment by Marie — May 28, 2007 @ 10:51 am

  24. This is a first. Two of my favorite—or maybe my favorite two– Staten Islanders—teaming up for such a great and very entertaining give-and-take. Howard, I also enjoyed your juxtaposing your opinions with Craig’s, making it more a conversation than an interview.

    Will I be able to catch you guys together at a comedy club in the future? It’ll be hilarious! Thanks for a great article, Howard and Craig.

    Comment by John — May 29, 2007 @ 2:22 pm

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