February 9, 2010

JBB EXCLUSIVE: Interview With Douglas Crawford, Part Two

February 9th, 2010

By Howard Tucker, Jersey Boys Blog Special Correspondent

HT: Are you OK with the transient lifestyle of being in a new city and new environment for a time? I travel a great deal for my job as well, but my stints are generally 1-2 weeks and yours could be several months. Do you enjoy the new experience or do you get homesick after a time?

DC: Well, Howard, it’s hard to complain. I’ve literally traveled the globe throughout my career and have gotten paid to do it. It’s inevitable – the nature of the beast. But what a blessing to not only make a living doing what you most love to do and are most passionate about, but to get do it and see the world, as well! That being said, however, there really is “no place like home.”

HT: How many roles have you covered in Jersey Boys? Was it a challenge remembering all of them? Did you ever confuse two roles on stage? Did you need to cover different roles in the same week? How often did you get to go on?

DC: Slow down – that’s a lot of questions coming in rapid succession! I have now covered seven roles in the show: Nick Massi, Gyp, Crewe, Norm, Hank, Knuckles and, finally, Bob Gaudio when I was filling in in the Broadway company this past fall. And yes, it is challenging…very!

I remember the first day I joined the First National Tour in San Francisco, our production stage manager, Tripp Phillips, told me I would be covering six tracks and I laughed out loud thinking he was kidding! I had never been a swing before and the trouble was, with everyone involved with tech rehearsals, there really was no one available at all to teach me the show. Thank God for Erik Bates! In addition to being another swing, he was also at the time, our dance captain. Whenever he could, we would rehearse in the women’s restroom in the lobby of the Curran Theatre because there was a little bit of space and some mirrors in there.

I was overwhelmed initially and quite honestly, convinced for the first couple of months there that I was going to get fired. Here I had missed six weeks of rehearsal, had to learn six roles AND be “the new guy in school!” I focused on learning “Massi” first (as that was the only “Season” I was covering) and built upon that foundation vocally and with the choreography.

It’s funny to think back about that time now, when I’ve gotten used to being in an understudy rehearsal and having to bounce between multiple tracks from scene to scene. The nature of the work in Jersey Boys is so specific that there really is no margin of error. Knowing all the vocal parts, choreography, the myriad of spike marks on stage for each chair, each track, etc., all the back-stage traffic patterns – it’s all part of the job – and it’s such an incredible job so you learn it quickly and you learn it well!

Fortunately, I’ve never confused roles on stage and yes, I have had weeks where I’ve gone on for several different roles in the show.

HT: What shows other than Grease and Jersey Boys have you been in? What were those experiences like?

DC: I couldn’t tell you anymore how many shows, concerts, cabarets, benefits, commercials, guest spots and such I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of at this point, but I know it’s easily in the hundreds! I couldn’t begin to list or comment on them all, but I will share a few of my favorites.

One was working with Brian May and Roger Taylor of Queen (my favorite band growing up) while creating the role of Pop in the North American Premiere Company of We Will Rock You in Las Vegas (along with current Vegas Lorraine, Carly Thomas-Smith and musical director, Keith Thompson). Also in Vegas, I originated the role of Quasimodo in one cast and Phoebus in the other for the English Premiere Company of Notre Dame de Paris (also starring Deven May).

The recent L.A. revival of Tommy with Alice Ripley – the first show ever to be presented in EXP3D surround sound (yes, each member of the audience wore Bose headphones throughout the performance…it was…um…an interesting experiment). I was Claude in Michael Butler’s 30th Anniversary L.A. Revival of Hair. I received the L.A. Robby Award for my performance in Lies and Legends and was Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, both at the Rubicon Theatre in Ventura, California.

One of my most thrilling experiences was, unfortunately, also one of my shortest. In 2006, I had the pleasure of being Peter alongside Ted Neeley, Yvonne Elliman, Barry Dennen, Ben
Vereen, Clint Holmes and Jack Black in a one-night-only, sold out Hollywood production of Jesus Christ Superstar. Until the final performance of Jersey Boys in Chicago, it may have been the most electrifying experience I have ever had in the theatre.

In addition, I have previously toured in productions of Into the Woods, City of Angels and played Jesus in numerous incarnations of Godspell throughout the country.

HT: You’ve had an impressive career and worked with many stars. Who’s had the most impact on you and your career?

DC: Throughout my career, I have had that great pleasure of working with some phenomenal creative geniuses. You use the word “stars” and many have been – in every sense of the word. Working with them allows you to get to know them for the creative and passionate and vulnerable and giving, living, loving human beings they are – beyond their “celebrity.”.After all, they’re still just people, you know? For the most part, I’ve always gotten along beautifully with them, enjoyed our time on and off stage/set together and learned so much from being around them! It’s important to note, here, the things I have learned from these performers go beyond the “craft” – some of the best life-lessons I’ve been taught have been passed on to me or demonstrated by these extraordinary talents!

I don’t want to “name-drop,” nor do I wish to single out one artist who “made the strongest impression” on me (that would be too difficult), but I will give you a couple of examples. Ted Neeley (star of Jesus Christ Superstar) has the most remarkable dedication to his fans – he will not leave a theater until he has taken the time to visit (not just sign an autograph or take a picture) with every fan who wishes to meet him. If that’s not enough, he remembers the names of these fans even if it has been YEARS since he last saw them! His generosity and genuineness is mind-blowing! Likewise, for anyone who has ever had the pleasure of working with Sally Struthers, they know it’s true when I say she truly becomes the adoptive mother to everyone in the company, be they cast, crew, musician, or an usher at the theater. What a beautiful, loving soul she is and in my opinion, a vastly underrated actress!

Bringing it back to the Jersey world, I must add, am constantly impressed by Rick Elice and the genuine attention, support and gratitude he seems to extend to each cast member in each company of the show. And I will always be indebted to associate choreographer Danny Austin for teaching me the immeasurable values of his philosophy of “instant forgiveness”!

HT: Yes, Doug, I need to add that Rick Elice is the same way to all of his fans. When he can, he even comes to our fan get-togethers.

You’ve done TV and movie work too, Doug. What have been your most memorable roles and what’s the difference between TV and movie work and stage work? Do you have a preference?

DC: Well, my first big break came when Oliver Stone cast me as one of Tom Cruise’s high-school buddies in the Oscar-nominated Born on the Fourth of July. I worked on that film for nearly three weeks and don’t think it amounted to even three seconds of actual screen time! I’ve guest-starred on shows like City Guys and Lincs, done a couple of pilots that never saw the light of day and a stint on the late Aaron Spelling’s daytime soap-opera, Sunset Beach. I was supposed to shoot my first lead in a film, the romantic comedy Cowgrrrls, last spring, but shortly before we were to begin filming our principal investor withdrew and the film was off.

The biggest difference between film and television and the theatre? In film and television, the money’s fantastic (Laughs)! I love getting residual checks long after the work is done! I also think you get to reach a larger audience which, in truth, can provide you the opportunity to gain more “recognition” and in turn, open up some more doors. It is, however, a different craft. Sitcoms feel a bit more like live theater if they are taped before a studio audience. Still, as an actor, you don’t have that experience of taking the journey uninterrupted from start to finish. I would honestly love to do more film and TV, but nothing will ever replace the high I get from doing live theater!

Coming Soon: Part Three of Howard Tucker’s JBB EXCLUSIVE Interview with Douglas Crawford!


  1. Howard, slow down – that’s a lot of questions coming in rapid succession!

    Thank God somebody finally knows how I feel! haha

    Comment by Gary — February 10, 2010 @ 12:25 am

  2. Hey Gary, to quote the Bachman Turner Overdrive, “you ain’t seen nothin’ yet”…we still have another part ahead! Seriously, the give-and-take between Doug and me was second to none (comparable to ours!) The questions and answers just kept flowing, and our chat certainly ranks along with my best “Jersey Boys” experiences. Thanks for the comment.

    Comment by Howard — February 10, 2010 @ 1:07 am

  3. Again…great interview! This man has quite the resume. I look forward to Part 3.

    Comment by Carolyn — February 10, 2010 @ 1:21 am

  4. Oh me, oh me, oh my-oh
    Hello world, goodbye Columbus!

    Great interview, Howard. Doug’s personality and character really come through his answers to your questions. Despite Doug’s ubiquity I have yet to see him in JB, but through this comfortable and warm interview I am getting the picture of a talented and experienced yet humble person. Hopefully I will get the opportunity to see him perform one of these days.

    Uncle John wouldn’t be the Johnny Crawford who played Chuck Connors’son on “The Rifleman,” would it? And who hit the charts in the early ’60′s with “Cindy’s Birthday” and “Proud?” I’m guessing not because there is no way such facts would escape your attention or mention, Howard. Also, the concept of “instant forgiveness” sounds intriguing. Did Doug elaborate on it?

    I look forward to Part III. (And I applaud your editorial decision to split the interview into segments. It allows me to complete some of my other, lighter reading – “War and Peace.” ;-) )

    Comment by stubbleyou — February 10, 2010 @ 8:17 am

  5. Only you can top a Howard Tucker interview, my friend!! Great follow up to Part One. Wow, Doug has an amazing resume. Would love to have seen him as Claude in Hair. He seems very warm and down to earth. Hope to finally catch him in one of the 7 roles he’s familiar with!

    Comment by Pamela — February 10, 2010 @ 7:14 pm

  6. Looking forward to Part 3!

    Comment by Chiara — February 10, 2010 @ 10:25 pm

  7. Stubbs and Howard,

    Don’t you think it is time for you to form a journalistic and entertainment duo? Abbott and Costello combined with perhaps Woodward and Bernstein – hysterical and brillaint. Now introducing
    the soon-to-be famous, Tucker and Stubbs!!!! It is bound to happen.
    Of course, you can also excel in the field of entertainment reviewers, the new Ebert and Roeper. Tucker and Stubbs – the dynamic duo!


    Comment by irene eizen — February 11, 2010 @ 12:59 pm

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