Max Crumm won our hearts (and the role of Danny Zuko) in the TV reality competition You’re the One That I Want. After making his Broadway debut in Grease opposite Laura Osnes, Crumm returned to California, where he appeared in the teen comedy Easy A with his childhood pal Emma Stone. Now, the 27-year-old is back on the New York stage as a puppet-loving nerdy hipster named Christian in the off-Broadway rock musical F#%king Up Everything. Broadway.com caught up with Crumm to talk about returning to New York, coming out and his dream of co-starring in Cabaret with Emma Stone.
We've heard that you're huge Muppet fan, and puppets are featured in F#%king Up Everything. Did that attract you to the show?
Oh my gosh, yeah! Ever since I was a little kid I’ve had a puppet. The character breakdown was “hipster kid in Brooklyn who does puppets and he f#%ks everything up,” and I was just like, “I want to do this so bad!”
Let’s talk about this score. Are you feeling like a hipster rock star up there?
I do, actually. I love the music. At our first sing-through, I had a little tear in my eye because I was happy the music was so good. There are at least six or seven hit songs in the show.
Is it scary to return to the stage and have a three-way scene in your underwear?
You know what? When I read the script I was like, “Christian’s a nerd. I’ll definitely get to wear a T-shirt.” Then, in rehearsal, our director said, "Christian is going to get naked.” So I just went for it, and it’s fine. But it is wild to be onstage without clothes on.
So, what’s new with your sketch comedy group Nancy?
This group is six of my best friends, and it’s been a labor of love. We’re a musical sketch comedy group, and the plan is just to get everybody’s face online, have fun and make people laugh. We’re rehearsing to do live shows around the city. I would love for Nancy to progress until we have a Broadway show or a variety show at a club. I love being in control of a portion of my destiny and creating something with my friends.
You’re pretty close with your Easy A co-star Emma Stone, right?
I grew up with her—she’s one of my best friends from growing up, so I actually got to be in the movie because of her.
Any plans to lure her to Broadway?
Oh, yeah, dude! We grew up doing musicals, and she wants to do Broadway so bad, but she’s nervous. I want to do Cabaret with her—I want to be the Emcee and I want her to be Sally Bowles. I know she’d love to do it, and she can dance! She’s a dancer, like full-on, [and] nobody really knows that.
Speaking of co-stars, what’s it like watching your Grease leading lady Laura Osnes become Broadway's princess?
I knew from day one in line that she was going to become Broadway’s princess, ‘cause that’s always what she’d been to me. In Grease I was in awe of her; I am forever a fan. She is the sweetest, most genuine, most Christ-like person I’ve ever met. She’s still one of my most favorite people that I’ve ever seen live on stage.
Why did you go back to Los Angeles after Grease?
I just needed to take a second. I also needed to come out. I wasn’t out—I’m gay, and I needed to be myself. I was only 21, and I knew I wanted to come back to theater, but I was also like, “I just want to go home and lay low.” I belong in New York, but I think I needed to go back there and wet my feet a little bit with not working [laughs]. I hope to show people that this is what I’m meant to do.
Was there anything you would change about your experience with Grease?
I almost came out during the run, but I was like, “Ugh. I don’t want Grease to be that memory for me.” If I had come out then, it would have been a “thing,” and I wouldn’t have wanted it to be. But theater is my first love, and I’m so thankful people are receiving me. Christian is the type of character I should be playing. I loved playing Danny, but at the core of my being—because I’m such a theater nerd—I was like, “Oh man, I’m so not right for this. Thanks America!” I was so young and so nervous about whether I was doing the right thing. I want to play more roles like Christian, character roles, crazy people, stuff like that.
I love how active you are on Twitter. Looks like you’re a big Drag Race fan. Which of the ladies are you hoping wins?
Jinkx! Jinkx said she wanted to be on Broadway, and she’s going to be.
You, Jinkx and Emma Stone in the Cabaret revival…
Please! Jinkx come be in Cabaret with us.
This show has such a great hash tag (#getyourhearton). What gives you a “heart on”?
To be honest, what gives me a heart-on is just being back in the city, being able to work. I’m thankful this time around.
Don't miss Max Crumm back on stage in F#%king Up Everything at Times Square's Elektra Theatre.