David Cryer

D.C.: I think the best gift an actor can give another actor in the theater is to commit to entering the world of the play from the moment you set foot on the ‘set’ and stay in that world until your exit. It’s a ‘green’ light to your stage partner’s creative spirit. David Cryer gifted me in that manner when I had the good fortune of portraying ‘Andre’ to David’s ‘Firmin’ for half a decade on the road with THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA.  I will be forever grateful. David’s career has included feature films (including AMERICAN GIGOLO and ALCATRAZ), Broadway (EVITA, COME SUMMER, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA), television (LAW AND ORDER), concerts (the premiere of Leonard Bernstein’s MASS) and television. He has a large, loving family – many of whom I’ve had the great pleasure to meet. It was heartwarming to come upon him in some corner of the theater on the phone with a member of his family back at home. His pleasure in speaking with them was palpable.
Tell me of an unusual occurrence you’ve experienced in either an airplane or a laundromat..
David: I am deathly afraid of heights, even getting close to the windows of the World Trade Center made me shake. My wife, Britt is not one for her family to take risks. When our son Daniel did his parachute jump from a plane he had to do it in secret and tell us about it afterward. However, for some reason, I like riding in small planes. My high school friend, Bud Warren, flew me from Toledo to Detroit to catch an airliner. It was delightful. When Dan Frasco, friend and crew member of our THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA tour, offered to take me up in a glider. I thought it better not to tell Britt. Who would help put Billy through college if something went wrong? Dan sat in front, I in tandem behind him while the Cessna attached to us by a strong cable pulled us down the runway and into the sky over St. Louis. The cable dropped, we sailed, and there was silence. Yes, that was the feeling. Silence and freedom to follow the laws of physics. Sailing and turning like a tilting boat, and seeing the green and gold fields passing below. Who could be sure of the landing, though? Dan did it just fine, like the veteran glider pilot that he is, with only a gentle bump and leisurely glide to a stop. Now I’ve done that and won’t need to do it again. I don’t want to break a leg like Geena Jeffries did. She missed a whole bunch of performances.    

If you could adopt a celebrity for a day – who would it be and what would be your schedule for the day?
David: I’ll not forget sitting at the feet of Martin Luther King, Jr. in the student lounge of Yale Divinity School in October of 1958. My god, he was only 29 years old, but already he was Doctor King of the Montgomery bus boycott. I would like to talk to him about how he was able to make his life count. I have always felt I took the easy road, the road of mostly pleasure. In my defense, I have always thought the theater gives emotional meaning to people, that it gives them clarity and unlocks their feelings, and I have loved being part of that, but Dr. King was a flawed hero. I’d just like to talk to him about how to live, maybe share a good hot dog. I’d ask him what he thought of the Unitarian church, of WEST SIDE STORY, of atheism, of being a family man. Or, probably, I’d just be in awe. I’m a shy person at the core.   
Have you ever literally run for your life? If so, the story please…..
David: I’ve not run for my life, except to get to the bathroom… Just before opening night of COME SUMMER I got into an argument over a cab in the West Village and the other guy popped me in the mouth. I should have run for my life.  
Share with me a :
Quote from the lyrics of a song that inspires you.
David: WEST SIDE STORY was the first Broadway show I saw. I was having catharses in the balcony of the Winter Garden Theater. ‘There’s a place for us’ was and always will be inspring, but the most inspiring thing about that show for me is the fact that human beings are capable of writing it and doing it. The singing, the acting, the dancing, the exaltation of being human.
Quote from the lyrics of a song that you find amusing.
David: I have to thank you, D.C., for loaning me Alan Chapman’s amusing parody of a song from SHOW BOAT: ‘Birds gotta swim and fish gotta fly, I’ve gotta love one sheep ’til I die.’ makes me laugh and never fails to make an audience gulp. Quote from the lyrics of a song that when you first heard it – you realized that you could have written that from your life.
David: ‘Somethings’s comin’, I don’t know what it is, but it is gonna be great’ has always been my belief. Stephen Sondheim probably thinks it’s a cliche, and it is a cliche, but it keeps us going, doesn’t it? Why not look on the bright side? We all know it ends and there are bumps and cuts and bruises along the way. I always feel I have been lucky.
Talk to me about a favorite pet.
David: Amy, the dog, was our favorite pet, sort of a terrier shepherd mix found at a garage sale in San Francisco and bought for four dollars when she popped into our daughter Rachel’s lap. Amy was never trained, but she was friendly and cuddly for seventeen years, and when we came East to New Jersey to find a house the main requirement was there must be a fenced yard for Amy the Dog. 
If the question, ‘Is there an afterlife?’ was definitively answered – would you want to know?
David: I certainly don’t know the answer to the afterlife, but, from what I’ve experienced and read, I believe the afterlife is not for me. I like Walt Whitman’s ‘I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love. If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.’ Look at the millions of gravestones in our cemeteries. People longing to be remembered. That’s what we want – to be remembered. I remember my people as much as I am able, but for the billions of humans, that is our afterlife, I think. Hey, maybe we will have another life. That would be wonderful, but not in heaven, please. Right here. This world is enough.
Have you ever shown up for a date or a party or an appointment on the wrong date or way, way off the correct time?
David: I think I’ve always arrived for a date on the right day. Isn’t that boring of me? I did arrive at PHANTOM one Monday night to do the show and wasn’t allowed to do it. I had told the stage manager Craig Jacobs I’d be back from vacation on the following day. How do these things happen? Ken Kantor got to do ‘Firmin’ and I went home.
No names, of course, but tell me about the date from from hell!
David: No names, of course, but I do remember several tongue-tied evenings with nothing to say in high school. What to do? It wasn’t a date from hell, but it was a date to be avoided next time. Probably not the girl of my dreams. This is not to say that all dates in high school were from hell. There were girls of my dreams in high school. They probably know who they are.
Cruises – have you taken one? do you want to take one? where would or did you go?
David: Britt and I booked a wonderful cruise through Scandinavia and the Baltic states and St. Petersburg for last summer. We wanted to see those places, especially because Britt’s ancestors and some of mine are Swedish, don’t you know? However, when it turned out that last summer was to be my last in PHANTOM we decided to ask for our $20,000. back. Another summer, perhaps. For now, we will use that money for several trips to California to see our children and grandchildren. So far, we’ve been twice and it has seemed very much the right decision.
If you could be an eye-witness to a historical event, which one and why?
David: I think we have all been present at an historical event. The election of Barack Obama. I know history has yet to decide whether he was a great or even a good president, but our family has never felt so much that the good has gained an edge in America. We still believe in him, ‘warts and all’. It’s a tremendously difficult job, listening and making decisions, and planning for a re-election, and getting money for a campaign and trying to make capitalism and democracy and health care and entitlements work, while ‘keeping America strong’ and winding down two wars. Whew! What a difficult job. I don’t think there has ever been a more intelligent and caring person in the presidency. I think we all have to help him make history.