April 3, 2007

Peter Gregus On The Road to Success

April 3rd, 2007

Columnist Connie Schultz of Cleveland.com had an interesting discovery about Peter Gregus while thumbing through the Jersey Boys’ program on her recent trip to NYC.

Gregus, a 44-year-old former elf reminded Schultz that it’s our embarrassments, as much as our successes, that define us. And that’s a good thing. It was intermission during the musical about Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons when Schultz was reading the bios of various actors that she came across this entry for Peter Gregus, who plays producer and lyricist Bob Crewe – “and others”:

Career lowlights: 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). Highlights: Dean Martin’s Head . . . Some screen appearances of me looking quietly concerned in the background . . .

Schultz remarked that Gregus was the only cast member willing to admit that life had provided its share of embarrassing stumbles on his road to success. Days later, back in Cleveland, the columnist kept thinking about Gregus. In this culture of shameless packaging and self-promotion, he stood out by opting out. She wanted to know more about the guy.

Schultz did some research on Gregus, and found out through “Back Stage East” magazine that he was a dancer who yearned for speaking roles, too. She then tracked down Peter last Friday and spoke to him by phone in the short break between rehearsal and show time.

Gregus, whose real name is Peter Jacobellis, thought these bios stating ‘Broadway this and Broadway that’ were on the boring side. Gregus reflected,

I thought of all the horrible, ridiculous jobs I’ve had. I’ve been painted blue, painted gold, flown with an umbrella at Radio City for no apparent reason. I thought, ‘That’s what I should be telling people about.’

And the thing is, he’s glad he had those jobs – every last one of them. He continued,

I carry those jobs like a badge of honor. They introduced me to a lot of great people, and some of them hired me later. Besides, I like being a big fat elf. Those kinds of roles speak to the kid in you.

Gregus spends a lot of time with kids and school groups, and his openness about his career prompts lively discussions. Here’s what he tells the kids:

During the Q-and-A, they often bring up the jobs they’d like to have, and I always tell them, ‘I don’t care if you want to dig ditches or be a brain surgeon, you’d better be the best at it. There are already plenty of ditch diggers and brain surgeons out there, so you have to be one of the best to get those jobs.’


  1. I have meet Peter Gregus many times after the JB performance. He is an amazing actor and does his
    many parts so believably. If he reads this, he will know who I am as I am the “crazy grandmother” who has seen the show 12 times already with many more to come.

    As I read this blog entry today, what Peter says to students about his many and varied roles on his climbing up the “ladder of success” reminded me of the infamous words of Dr.Martin Luter King.

    “If a man is called to be a streetsweeper, he should sweep the streets as Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great streetsweeper who did his job so well.”

    As do you, Peter! Irene Eizen
    AKA, The Crazy Grandmother

    By the way, Peter, since we last spoke, I am a grandmother for the third time to Nathaniel Carl Eizen, six days old today!

    Comment by irene eizen — April 3, 2007 @ 2:33 pm

  2. Adding to what my friend Irene says above, Peter, I think we all know the story of Abraham Lincoln:

    Lost job in 1832.
    Defeated for state legislature in 1832.
    Failed in business in 1833.
    Elected to state legislature in 1834.
    Sweetheart died in 1835.
    Had nervous breakdown in 1836.
    Defeated for Speaker in 1838.
    Defeated for nomination for Congress in 1843.
    Elected to Congress in 1846.
    Lost renomination in 1848.
    Rejected for land officer in 1849.
    Defeated for U.S. Senate in 1854.
    Defeated for nomination for Vice President in 1856.
    Again defeated for U.S. Senate in 1858.
    Elected President in 1860.

    One never knows what life has in store, Peter. And at 44, you probably haven’t even reached “the back nine” yet. Great article and well-deserved recognition.

    Comment by Howard Tucker — April 3, 2007 @ 5:21 pm

  3. Hi Peter,

    You may remember me as the wife of Pete & mother of Peter who you took a picture with in Sept.2006. You signed one for Peter & I sent one for you to have. We even spoke with you & Jennifer inside the stage door in Feb ’07′ about your wish to take JB’s to London. I hope you get it.

    Anyway, you are a terrific talented man. If anyone hasn’t gotten them, get the Carols For A Cure Vol.#6( 2005) and Vol.#7(2006)to hear Peter’s lovely voice, along with numerous other cast members. All do a fantastic job.

    Peter, even tho you are not a “season” in JB’s, one can see as you play Bob Crewe & others, that this is only scratching the surface of your talents.

    Thank you for chatting with us each time at the stage door & may you have continued success. Keep up the great work.

    Stacey Siringano

    Comment by stacey — April 3, 2007 @ 6:01 pm

  4. Peter Gregus is a great guy… He’s trouble, but then again so am I according to him! Love him and he is fabulous on stage and off!

    Comment by Hilary — April 4, 2007 @ 1:34 am

  5. Peter is an absolutely wonderful person and is a joy to see at Jersey Boys! He’s so much fun to be around and has done tons of wonderful things for fans (including me!).

    We love you, Peter!

    Comment by Elle — April 5, 2007 @ 8:59 am

  6. Peter is so great..I love his portrayal of Bob Crewe. Unfortunately, when I went this past weekend to JB he was not at the stage door (probably inside the lobby for BC/EFA donations). But he is still a wonderful guy!

    Comment by A — April 5, 2007 @ 2:30 pm

  7. I taught Peter everything he knows. We went to high school together. In “The Man Who Came to Dinner”, he was Bert to my Maggie. It was a love affair to remember. I love you Peter!!

    Comment by Ang — May 1, 2007 @ 11:41 pm

  8. Hi Peter! This is your madrigal partner from high school! I’m not at all surprised by your success or your humility. You were always incredibly talented and such a great person.

    I couldn’t get tickets to see the show in NY, so will see it in Phoenix this fall. Sorry I won’t see you, though! I found this blog when I was checking out the show website. What a great article!


    Comment by Mary Beth — July 20, 2007 @ 12:39 pm

  9. I remember Peter from highschool, i’m glad to see he living the dream, he was fantastic in Jersey Boys.

    Comment by M — April 8, 2010 @ 4:39 pm

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