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

Carlos Gonzalez (Ernesto Linnermann, courtesy Gonzalez)

4 Latinx Dancers Breaking Boundaries

It's National Hispanic Heritage Month, a period observed from September 15 to October 15 that recognizes the contributions of Latinx and Hispanic communities to American culture. The dance world has been lucky enough to be on the receiving end of those contributions, with Latinx dance artists leaving legacies that have helped move it to a more inclusive place.

At Dance Spirit, we're celebrating the month by highlighting four Latinx dancers whose groundbreaking work is opening doors for the next generation.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Goucher College students performing Women's Resistance (Jason Lee, courtesy Goucher College)

4 Colleges Committed to Diversifying Their Dance Curriculums

In the face of today's racial crisis, many Americans are now reckoning with their own complicity in the oppression of marginalized groups, and asking, "What can I do?" For college dance programs, which help mold the minds of the next generation of dance artists, this is an especially important question. For decades, most departments have centered on white, Western styles—ballet, modern, contemporary—rather than dedicating resources to the world's myriad other dance forms.

Fortunately, some college dance programs have pledged to diversify their course offerings, and to dismantle the layers of white supremacy that still pervade our art on a larger scale. And while many colleges are now beginning this work, a few have made
it a central part of their mission for years. Here are four schools with longstanding commitments to a more equitable dance education.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
We're doing classical ballet, #SpookyStyles (Getty Images/Ezume Images)

This Halloween, We're Ranking the Spookiest Ballets in Dance History

When people think ballet, they think elegance and grace—pretty tutus and pink shoes. Yet the plots of some of the most famous ballets could rival any Hollywood horror flick. Most ballet companies have their Nutcracker in the wintertime, and a fun story ballet in the spring, but what about #SpookySzn?

We're ranking the *spookiest* ballets on a scale from 1-5 Wilis—aka the beautiful dancing ghosts from Giselle. For the sake of this list, 1 will be "slightly concerning" (think, "forgetting your ballet shoes at home") and 5 will be "abject terror" (as in, "forgetting the choreography for your solo and freezing like a deer in headlights").

Without further ado, let's boo-rrée down the list.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

Enter the Cover Model Search