May 22, 2007

JBB EXCLUSIVE: Interview With Peter Gregus!

May 22nd, 2007

Peter Gregus

Jersey Boys Blog had the incredible opportunity to chat with Peter Gregus before his Wednesday matinee performance on May 9. Peter talks about his journey with Jersey Boys; his interesting gigs prior to JB; what it’s like to play Bob Crewe; his job as Dance Captain and Fight Captain; and so much more!

JBB: Peter, you’ve had quite the Jersey Boys journey—from the show’s beginnings at La Jolla Playhouse, then the Broadway opening, to the Tony win, and now, the hottest show on Broadway! Tell us about your journey.

PG: It’s been crazy! Being part of the original company in La Jolla until now has been a ride from zero to 60! We started with a wonderful script, and then being part of the realization of Des’s vision of that script was an incredible experience. It was great in La Jolla, but we knew it was going to be even better in New York.

The La Jolla audiences loved it, but this is a Jersey show! We didn’t even know if New York was going to happen. We closed in La Jolla in January ’05, and we found out in May ’05 that we were headed to Broadway.

Coming into New York wasn’t as easy as people think it was. We we were up against the “Jukebox” musical stigma. But after they saw how rich the book was, they changed their minds, fast.

Over the last year and a half, it’s been a roller coaster. We opened in November ’05—then all of the appearances, including the “Today Show” and “Letterman,” then the Tony win!

JBB: Since the big Tony win, have you experienced any career surprises that you weren’t expecting?

PG: For me, the surprise has been recognition. I live near Union Square, and people come up to me and say, ‘Hey, you’re in Jersey Boys!’ Also, there are people at the stage door, who’ve seen the show seven, eight, twelve times. They chat about the show, talk about the nuances of that night’s performances. It’s great hearing their comments and knowing how much they appreciate the show.

JBB: According to what you listed in Jersey Boys’ Playbill, you’ve had some interesting jobs over the years, including playing “Elf (Macy’s), 10-foot Day-Glo Frog (Radio City), Elf (Madison Square Garden, better costume, still an Elf), Dean Martin’s Head (Radio City).” Tell us about those gigs and what you got out of them.

PG: Yes, I’ve played an Elf before and it was for Susan Stroman in A Christmas Carol at Madison Square Garden. Through that job, I built a relationship with her that lead her to casting me in CONTACT, which I did for three years at the Lincoln Center Theater. Sort of the same thing happened with this job. I did a show for Des McAnuff at Radio City where at one point I had to be a puppeteer and manipulate the head of a 15 foot Dean Martin! But he must have remembered me from that job, because here I am in Jersey Boys.

JBB: You began as a dancer. Did you always have aspirations to be an actor?

PG: Yes, I began as a dancer. At age 35, dancers are usually at the top of their game. I began taking acting lessons in my early 30s. To me, dancers have to be actors, too. Dancers are part of the storytelling process in the show, just like the actors.

JBB: Bob Crewe is such an amazing character. What type of preparation and research did you do to get into the character? Did you meet Bob Crewe in person?

PG: The writers interviewed Bob Crewe, as well as everyone else who was affiliated with the show extensively. We also had an amazing experience with the dramaturge to really learn about the characters that we would be playing, the time period, and of course, Jersey! As actors, our first responsibility is to bring the director’s vision to life.

I first met with Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio to get an outsider’s perspective on Bob Crewe. They told me that Bob was like a pit bull in his work style, and wouldn’t rest until whatever he wanted to accomplish was completed. Later, I visited with Bob Crewe at his home in Hollywood Hills. During that time, he showed me these amazing photo albums that he has kept over the years. In these photos, Bob looked like a Nordic prince, always dressed to the nines. He was always photo-ready!

JBB: You are also Dance Captain and Fight Captain in Jersey Boys. What are the responsibilities of these positions?

PG: As Dance Captain, it is my job to keep the show as close to what it looked like on opening night. Of course, things grow, but I have to keep an eye on it. I sit out front once a month and note the show from there, but I also have to keep an eye on it daily, so when I’m on stage, I have to keep one eye on what I’m doing and one eye on the dancing. I also train the understudies in their roles as well as any new company member coming in the show. Fight Captain is basically the same thing, since all the fights are staged, it’s almost like the dancing. You have to do a specific thing on a specific beat.

JBB: What’s your favorite Jersey Boys scene and favorite musical number, and why?

PG: Same answer for both—“Cry For Me.” The direction in that scene and the song are both amazing.

JBB: What’s your favorite line in Jersey Boys, and why?

PG: Jennifer Naimo’s answer to Bob Gaudio’s line–”T.S. Elliot calls it
the objective correlative”: “You’re not from around here, are you?” For me, it encapsulates everything from the sophistication to the blue collar nature of the script.

JBB: Since Jersey Boys, have you discovered anything about yourself that you didn’t know before?

PG: I’ve learned that I have pretty good timing, and timing is everything. I’ve also learned to trust my instincts. Playing comedy is harder than drama, and it’s key to know about the rhythm and timing in your performance. You need to trust your instincts at the gut level.

Thank you again to the multi-talented Peter Gregus for taking the time for this fascinating interview!


  1. Hi, Peter,

    This is the “crazy grandma”, Irene Eizen. I saw you backstage last Friday evening and yes I am one of those people who has seen the show many times (16 and counting). You are spectacular in your role(s) and have an amazing personality. You really enjoy what you do and your life after the show. It is evident to me.

    See you soon. IE

    Comment by Irene Eizen — May 22, 2007 @ 10:49 am

  2. Peter, it’s always a pleasure speaking to you at the door. Great interview. You’re a man of many talents as detailed here. Two more questions… what is in the photo that you are holding? and how about your own website? You could put photos of the ‘do’ you had for the role in La Jolla, etc. (Glad they lost that piece.) You always look great!

    Comment by Audrey — May 22, 2007 @ 11:29 am

  3. Peter, you’ve made the role of Bob Crewe so distinctive, that one of the few changes I would make if I were Des for a day, would be to have you exclusively in that role. Over the past year, two friends have asked me what Bob Crewe was doing in the Bloomfield/Fairfield scene. Great work, Peter.

    Comment by Howard Tucker — May 22, 2007 @ 11:52 am

  4. Peter,
    I love your roles as Bob Crewe and so many other people. You change so many times in the show..I don’t know how you keep it all straight. I am seeing the show tomorrow…looking foward to seeing you!

    Comment by A — May 22, 2007 @ 3:05 pm

  5. Hi Peter,

    Little Peter & I were just talking about you tonight. He is still singing the shows songs around the house. Do you still have the 3 Pete’s picture? Hope to see the show again soon. Yes your own web site would be GREAT!! If you do one, please put some of your vocals/singing on it. We listen to you on the Carols for a Cure song & want to hear more. Keep up the great work in all your JB’s jobs/parts.

    All of our best wishes.
    Stacey, Pete & Little Peter

    Comment by Stacey S. — May 23, 2007 @ 1:05 am

  6. Peter,

    It was an absolute thrill to meet and talk with you, however briefly, after the Thursday, May 24th performance. My wife and I managed to get standing room tickets (our third time seeing the show, but first time without seats!) and we had a sensational time!!! I mentioned to you that evening that I enjoyed the recent interviews you provided to the blog and the related podcast, but I have to correct myself; after thinking about it a bit I realized it wasn’t on the podcast, it was a video interview you did that is available for viewing in four parts on You Tube. It’s definitely worth checking out. Perhaps the blog administrators might even make it available on a future post for all to see!! I always find it very interesting to learn about actor’s backgrounds (possibly owing to my work as a career counselor at a college) and gain insights into shows they have been (and still are) involved with. Your interviews were both extremely interesting, informative and entertaining. Once again, I’d also to say how much my wife and I both enjoyed your work in the show “Contact,” as well as your current roles in “Jersey Boys.” Hopefully we will be fortunate enough to catch your performance in “Jersey Boys” for a fourth time!!!!

    Continued success to you in “Jersey Boys” as well as all your future endeavors!

    All the best,

    Len Gersten

    Comment by Len Gersten — May 26, 2007 @ 11:37 pm

  7. HI BOB,

    Comment by CHRIS CROSBY — May 27, 2007 @ 4:45 pm

  8. Peter, I am an old friend from High School and am coming to see the show tomorrow night, 3/19. It would be so nice to say hello for five minutes after the show. You can reach me at the email address above.

    So great to see how wonderful you are doing!!

    Blessings, Pam

    Comment by Pam V. — March 18, 2008 @ 3:35 pm

  9. Peter–saw the show today (Aug. 2)–I recognized you right away–you were terrific!! You won’t remember me but I was one of your high school teachers-you knew me as “Gerb”–congratulations!!–this is what you always wanted-I’m so happy for you- Much success!!

    Comment by Linda Carillo — August 2, 2008 @ 7:15 pm

  10. Peter, I have seen the show 6 times, most recently at Christian’s final performance. Everytime you come out on stage I smile, because I know I am going to be entertained! I had a chance to chat with you briefly at the stage door, and you are truely a kind person as well as a fabulous performer. Thank you for taking the time to find and sign your own photo in my book! Looking forward to seeing the show again, I hope you are there for many more performances!

    Comment by Jane — September 30, 2008 @ 2:20 pm

  11. Peter,
    So wonderful to see your success knowing that you’ve had a passion for performing since we were kids. I’m so happy for you.

    Comment by Casey Housman — February 11, 2010 @ 4:26 pm

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