Actor Juwan Crawley and his ‘insane’ career launch

Juwan Crawley, second from right, in "Spamilton"

Juwan Crawley, second from right, in "Spamilton"

Sometimes a life can change with the “ping” of a cellphone.

Juwan Crawley, still in his work uniform after his third-shift job at Shelton’s Wal-Mart, where he spent the night moving cash registers, was having morning coffee with a cousin in Bridgeport, when he received a text from his agent which read: “Check your email.”

So he did, and the 21-year-old actor-singer, who had graduated from the Hartt School at the University of Hartford just weeks earlier, learned he was cast in “Spamilton!,” the off-Broadway musical parody of you-know-what blockbuster show.

“I said, “‘Tisha, this must be a joke,’ and she said, ‘This is no joke, Juwan. You’ve been working so hard for this.’ I called my mother and she shrieked so loudly you could hear her on the other side of town. She was crying. I was crying. It was unreal.”

“Spamilton!” opened in September, and it quickly became one of the hottest shows off-Broadway, with Crawley being singled out for his performance in a variety of spoofy roles. He performed before Stephen Sondheim (in the show he plays the composer dressed as Ben Franklin — don’t ask), “Hamilton!’s” director, Thomas Kail, and its creator, Lin-Manual Miranda, who loved the parody so much he gave everyone in the cast tickets to his hit.

But that was just the beginning of what would be an extraordinary season for the young actor-singer. His second audition, which he did before he was cast in “Spamilton!,” was for “Found,” an off-Broadway musical being re-mounted in Philadelphia with Broadway aspirations. He got that job, too.