February 12, 2010

JBB EXCLUSIVE: Interview With Douglas Crawford, Part Three

February 12th, 2010

Douglas Crawford
Howard Tucker and Douglas Crawford

By Howard Tucker, Jersey Boys Blog Special Correspondent

HT: You’ve made so many appearances on The Tonight Show. Can you tell us about those? Any chance of your being the host in the future? There’s a rumor that spot may open up!

DC: (Laughs) Yeah, sure, like I want to get caught up in that drama! I have been lucky enough to do The Tonight Show a few times (either singing back up for the musical guest or doing a number from a show, as we did with the First National Tour of Jersey Boys when we were still in San Francisco) and what can I say? Each time was really cool – it’s The Tonight Show – it’s iconic!

Jay was always very gracious to his guests and each time (in my experience anyway) made a point to introduce himself and thank us for being on. It’s great to do something that my friends and family can see practically anywhere in the world. It’s also pretty cool just saying, “I’m doing The Tonight Show this week”!

HT: Besides everything else, Doug, you are a talented playwright….having written a rock musical along with friends Ty Taylor and Jason Wooten. Please tell us about that.

DC: While in Vegas doing We Will Rock You, my dear friends and co-stars, Jason Wooten and Ty Taylor (Ty and I had done Grease together on Broadway all those years before) and I started talking about our similar careers doing rock musicals and what, we believed, goes into making that genre both significant and successful. The more we talked about it, the more we realized we were, perhaps, uniquely qualified to write one ourselves. It was a first for each of us, even though none of us was completely new to the worlds of writing and composing.

What transpired was a wonderful, harmonious and relatively fast creative outpouring and collaboration. Within a month or so, we had completed a first draft of The Existents – an original rock musical that uses the story of a fictitious band as a metaphor for any individual life – and had written over twenty songs to make up the score. Ty was leaving Rock You to compete on the CBS show, RockStar: INXS, so we worked quickly (and rather obsessively) to have a good foundation in place prior to his departure. Rock You closed late 2005 (after a solid year-and-a half run) and by April of 2006 we presented a reading of the show in New York City, to an overwhelming response.

The trouble with the three of us writers is (and, honestly, it’s not a bad problem to have): we seem to work consistently and are rarely in the same place at the same time. After I left the Jersey tour (following the run at the Ahmanson in L.A., September of ’07), we mounted an SRO concert presentation of some of the music from The Existents at the world-famous Whisky A-Go-Go on the Sunset Strip. We were the first “musical” to ever be permitted to perform in that historic rock venue. Again, the reactions we received were more than enough to keep us believing in our project (I’m so happy to tell you that many Jersey fans made the trip to attend that concert and I will always be so grateful for their love and support)! I thrilled, too, to let you know our work continues and there are, at present, a few different theaters that are wanting to produce the show (including one that received a generous grant from the National Endowment of the Arts specifically to workshop The Existents).

I’m learning heaps about the process of creating an original work as we now enter our fifth year or so of developing this project. If any of our readers would like to learn more about the show, listen to some of the songs, or watch video clips from our concert; please check us out at Myspace.com/theexistents.

There is also another show I have written on my own that legally, I am not at liberties to discuss at this time, but am equally excited about! My hope is that 2010 proves to be the year that I have not one, but two shows of mine in production somewhere! As grateful as I am to have the performing career I do (and, trust me, I know I am so blessed in that respect), it is tremendously rewarding as well to see this other facet of my career and creativity begin to take off!

HT: Just one glance at your Facebook Wall, Doug, shows how many people with whom you’ve connected, including fans, other JB cast members and some very well-known names with whom you’ve worked in the past. Their posts to you around Thanksgiving and Christmas were indeed touching. How have you managed to stay in touch and become friends with so many people with such a busy life? Any philosophy you can share with us?

DC: Well, honestly, Howard, I don’t think you can have great friends without being one in return and I try to make a conscious effort to always let my friends know how much they mean to me – how truly grateful I am for them! Their love and support and inspiration are what drives me and make my good days even better and my bad days seem more tolerable. I love people and have been so blessed in my lifetime to have had the opportunity to meet and connect with so many incredible souls!

Thank God for Facebook, though! It sure makes keeping in touch a whole lot easier! If wealth were measured in friendships, then I would be a rich man indeed. Even with the JB fans I don’t really know, I still appreciate their interest and support and am humbled that something I have been a part of has touched them in some way and brought them so much happiness, you know? At the end of the day, you keep in touch with those you love because it is important to you, because you want to, and because your world would amount to precious little without them!

HT: Yeah, the Facebook thing applies to many of us, Doug. Just this week, I reconnected with someone I played “sandbox” with over 50 years ago, and hadn’t seen since high school, and we’re having lunch next week.

DC: I love it!

HT: Would you share with us some of your thoughts on the Chicago closing of Jersey Boys? You’ve said it was one of your most fulfilling experiences in theatre.

DC: My entire time there was nothing short of magical! Cory Grant and Michelle Aravena had told me ahead of time that I would fall in love with that family there and they were right. I had done a short fill-in in Chicago, April-May of 2008, but it was so quick that I’ve often questioned whether or not it had really, actually happened! This time, however, I know I will never forget! Knowing I was joining them in the eleventh hour prior to ending their record-breaking run there, I was prepared for a potentially awkward situation. The immediate love and support I received from the entire company quickly put those fears to rest.

Granted, outside Chicago was FREEZING (this boy who had spent the past twelve years on the west coast was ill-prepared for that kind of winter), but the warmth of my new family and the holiday glow of the city made certain I knew I was exactly where I was meant to be! I had a blast playing with that company, both on and off stage. I hadn’t seen Michael Cunio (the fantastic Tommy there) since hanging out with him in L.A. over ten years ago! Everyone went out of their way to make me feel comfortable and feel like I was a part of their family.

And then there was that final show! As I mentioned before, it was without question the most thrilling experience I’ve ever had in a theatre (either onstage or off)! From the minute the show began, the Bank of America Theatre was electric! I told Michael Ingersoll (Nick Massi) I felt like one of The Beatles when the audience erupted as he, Cunio and I strolled down to our mics for “Silhouettes”! And that energy never let up throughout that last matinee! Spontaneous standing ovations, entrance and exit applause for some of the smaller, secondary characters – that audience must have added 15-20 minutes to the show just in their ecstatic appreciation of it. It was such a gift to receive that. I mean, JERSEY BOYS is unique in its ability to always evoke tremendous reactions from its crowds, but this particular house cranked it up to eleven! It’s important for me to clarify that, although that crowd went wild, they were never disrespectful. There were fans there that knew this show as well as we did! It was a powerful reminder to me of the beauty of theatre – it is a living art-form that is shared between those who present the work and those who are there to receive it! I don’t think any of us who were fortunate enough to be in that theatre that Sunday afternoon will ever forget that show! Like I said before, it, truly was magical!

HT: Doug, this has been such an enormous pleasure for me. I’ve been going to the theatre since 1961, and can’t believe how much I’ve learned from you. With all you’ve accomplished, your humility is so refreshing.

Finally, my man, what’s next for you? Anything interesting on the horizon that you can share?

DC: There are a lot of kettles in a lot of fires right now and I have every faith that 2010 is going to prove to be another extraordinary year, if not the best year yet! You can rest assured that any major breaking news will, more than likely, make its way to my Facebook page eventually.

HT: And to the Jersey Boys Blog and Jersey Boys Forum!

DC: In the meantime, Howard, let me thank you and the readers out there for giving me this opportunity to share some of my thoughts and experiences with you!

Hopefully it has been both entertaining and informative. I am truly grateful to be associated with this phenomenal show and so blessed to have shared my “Jersey” travels with so many incredible people, both, on-stage and off! Who knows? You may just see me in “Jersey” again sometime, somewhere. Until then, peace and love always!

As a final thought, I leave you with this – the older I get, the more I realize the keys to it all are simply, “positivity” and “gratitude”! Trust me and take it from the blonde kid from Ohio who has spent the better part of three years being a “Jersey Boy” in one of the most critically and commercially successful shows in theatre history – if you approach each day with positivity and gratitude, there are no dreams you can’t make come true! From the bottom of my heart, thank you and God bless! More soon as the adventure continues…


  1. Doug is awesome. He’s the perfect example of getting back what you give. No doubt he’s going to succeed in whatever he does. He was great in Chicago — we were lucky to have him.

    Comment by Mary — February 12, 2010 @ 3:18 pm

  2. Even Cowgrrrls Got The Boot. Too bad; clever title too. I could see Doug reprising his lead role in the sequel, where the girls have grown up and moved to the city — Cougrrrs. (Pah-dump bump).

    Seriously, Howard and Doug, great interview. What a nice set of photos accompanying the three segments, too. They attest to the breadth and variety of Doug’s experience. If a picture is worth a thpusand words, I now understand why this interview needed to be told in three parts; Doug had an awful lot of interesting tales to tell. Didn’t I read on facebook that this interview was 16 pages long, single spaced?

    Reminds me of the following ditty, with apologies to Tennessee Ernie Ford (or was it Tennessee Williams? I always get them confused):

    You take-a sixteen tomes and-a what do you get?
    An actor named Crawford and a glimpse at his depth
    Howard don’t ya tell me what I already know
    He made his bones playing multiple roles…

    (at least I know it wasn’t Tennessee Tuxedo, anyway) ;-) p

    Comment by stubbleyou — February 12, 2010 @ 4:01 pm

  3. I reiterate my comments from Part II of Howard’s illustrious interview. Stubbs and Tucker – imagine the possibilities – a comedic duo surpassing Abbott and Costello, the Marx Brothers, Laurel and Hardy; a journalistic pair extraordinaire so move over Woodward and Bernstein, Huntley and Brinkley; an entertainment pair to whom Ebert and Roeper couldn’t hold two candles to – it’s time that you mulitalented guys get your show on the road. You have THOUSANDS of fans already!

    Love, IE

    Comment by irene eizen — February 12, 2010 @ 6:03 pm

  4. Howard, you and Doug are BRILLIANT! If anyone gets a chance to see “The Existents” go, you will NOT be disappointed..they ROCK! I know, I was there and can tell you first hand I’d go again and again. Doug, is truly a living angel, and wish him nothing but the best. What I don’t understand is, WHY Hollywood isn’t knocking his door down. Cheers to both of you!And thanks for the great interview.

    Comment by Kathy Johnstone — February 14, 2010 @ 11:30 am

  5. Great finale! Also, such a nice photo.

    Comment by Carolyn — February 15, 2010 @ 11:53 pm

  6. Hey, everybody! Just wanted to thank you all for taking the time to read these interviews – they weren’t short, I know, so you REALLY had to take some time! ;) It means more to me than you can possibly imagine that my career and stories are of interest to anyone…well, besides, my mother, probably, but even she’s heard all this before!?! ;) Thank you, too, for the lovely comments. I am so grateful to Howard for approaching me about doing an interview and to Susie for deeming it worthy to print. Howard did an outstanding job – asking interesting questions that, hopefully, really allowed you readers the opportunity to learn more about me – and I had a wonderful time working with him on this! A couple of you raised some questions in your comments that I wanted quickly to address. No, my Uncle John is not that Johnny Crawford from “The Riflemen” and Danny Austin’s philosophy of “Instant Forgiveness” is simply that. Too often, we punish ourselves for mistakes we make and hold onto that negativity (in this case, if I messed up a bit of choreography when I FINALLY got to rehearse and clean it with him in an actual dance studio). If I’d mess up a step or wasn’t as sharp as Sergio wanted, Danny would simply say, “instant forgiveness”, I’d run it again and nail it. Such a simple reminder that has carried over into so many aspects of my everyday life. Anyway, just wanted to clear that up. Thanks again, everyone! All the best to you all always…all ways!
    - a grateful “Jersey” Boy

    Comment by Douglas Crawford — February 16, 2010 @ 2:39 pm


    Comment by JIM PETRECCA — February 23, 2010 @ 12:55 am

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