The Wedding Singer's Amy Spanger

Dance Spirit: How did you get to Broadway?
Amy Spanger:
The summer between my freshman and sophomore years [at the University of Massachusetts], I auditioned for A Chorus Line at the Theater by the Sea in Portsmouth, NH. The director, who had done the show on Broadway, said, “You could go to New York. You have a lot of talent.� He was the first person from New York who said that to me. So instead of going back to UMass, I started to save money, waited tables and took acting, singing and dance classes. When I was 21, I moved to New York City with $2,000!

DS: When you got to New York, was it terrifying, or did you jump right in?
Not to be corny, but it felt like something brought me here, like it was a calling. And I was terrified, and I was really lonely, but I got settled in my apartment and got a copy of Back Stage and started scoping out auditions. I started taking classes at Broadway Dance Center and Steps. I got a job waiting tables. And, within a few months, I got my first job, playing Cassie in A Chorus Line with the Yorktown Regional Theatre Company.

DS: What was your first Broadway show?
Sunset Boulevard, and I got that from a cattle call! They were doing this thing called “typing people out,� which means they’ll bring up 10 people at a time and decide looks-wise or type-wise if they want to keep you. They kept me that day, and I got to sing 16 bars and dance. A year later they brought me in for a final callback. I booked the job, and they said I was their first choice from the auditions, which was pretty cool.

DS: How did you get involved with The Wedding Singer?
I had worked with [The Wedding Singer director] John Rando on Urinetown, and I loved and respected his work. I also enjoyed the film, so when [the musical] came up I was really interested. [At the audition,] they asked people to sing an ’80s pop song. Since the character of Holly is supposed to be a Madonna wannabe, I did “Like a Virgin� and rolled around on the floor like I was on fire—really bad dancing. They liked it a lot. [laughs]

DS: What’s your favorite number in the show?
I love “Saturday Night in the City,� the Act I closer, because the last moment [when Holly has water poured over her, à la Flashdance] is so shocking and fun. I’ve never been a part of something quite like that.

DS: What’s it like doing this style of dancing, that’s so inspired by the ’80s?
It’s funny—I grew up in the mid ’80s, and I emulated Paula Abdul and Madonna and Janet Jackson and knew all of the dance breaks from their videos. So this is a really easy fit.

DS: How do you keep it fresh when you’re performing a show eight times a week?
I journal a lot, about the character and how she relates to me and my life. And I approach it like it’s happening for the first time, every time. Of course, some nights are easier than others, but I stay as present as I can in the moment as it’s happening, and really dig in and enjoy the character.

DS: What’s your most embarrassing onstage moment?
After the Flashdance moment at the end of The Wedding Singer’s first act, I originally did a big backbend to stand up and dance again. During the second preview in Seattle, my wig fell completely off! I was dancing around feverishly trying to cover it up, and I ended up facing upstage for my final pose holding the wig to the back of my head.

DS: Do you have any advice for people wanting to break into musical theater?
: If you want to do musicals, you have to work on everything: your singing, dancing and acting. What’s amazing about the cast I’m working with now is that everybody dances, even the people who consider themselves singer/actors. Also, learn what your strengths are, how you’re different from other people, and bring those into the room every time you audition or perform.

Latest Posts

Photo by Jayme Thornton

How Paloma Garcia-Lee Manifested Her Dream Role, in Steven Spielberg’s "West Side Story"

On a rainy day in November 2018, Paloma Garcia-Lee got a call from her agent that brought her to her knees outside her New York City apartment: She was going to play Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.

The call came after a lengthy audition process with Spielberg in the room, and the role, originated by Wilma Curley on Broadway in 1957 and later portrayed by Gina Trikonis in the 1961 film, was her biggest dream. In fact, it's something Garcia-Lee says she manifested from the day plans for the movie were announced in January 2018. "I wrote in my journal: 'I am playing Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.'"

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo by @mediabyZ

Am I Less Committed to Dance Because I Have Other Passions? (Spoiler Alert: NO!)

Let's face it—dance is HARD, and in order to achieve your goals, you need to be committed to your training. "Still, there's a fine line between being committed and being consumed." Dancers can, and should, have interests outside of the studio.

Not convinced? We talked with dance psychologist Dr. Lucie Clements and two multifaceted dancers, Kristen Harlow (a musical theater dancer pursuing a career in NYC and Kentucky) and Kallie Takahashi (a dancer in her final year at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts), and got the inside scoop on how having hobbies outside of dance can inform your artistry, expand your range and help prevent burnout.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo by Jamayla Burse

Catching Up With Christian Burse, Comp Kid Turned Complexions Rising Star

With her nearly limitless facility, well-timed dynamics and incredible control, Christian Burse's future as a dancer was guaranteed to be bright. A student at the renowned Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, TX, and at Dance Industry Performing Arts Center in Plano, TX, Burse has consistently made waves: She won first runner-up for Teen Outstanding Dancer at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals in 2019, received a grant for summer study at Juilliard from the Texas Young Masters program in 2020, and was named a YoungArts finalist for dance in 2021.

So, it wasn't all that surprising when Burse announced that, at just 17 years old, she would be joining Complexions Contemporary Ballet as an apprentice for the company's 2021–22 season.

Dance Spirit caught up with Burse to hear all about her first season with Complexions ahead of the contemporary ballet company's run at the Joyce Theater in NYC this month.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

Enter the Cover Model Search