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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Behind the scenes of ‘Once’


    Courtesy of Erica Spyres

    Don’t throw out your St. Patrick’s Day trinkets just yet. The sweet sounds of Ireland will be coming to the UA’s Centennial Hall from March 31 to April 5, or at least in the form of 2012 Tony Award-winning musical “Once.” The Daily Wildcat spoke with “Once” singer, actress, dancer and violinist Erica Spyres about the theatrical adaptation of the 2006 Irish indie hit with music by The Swell Season. Hint: Arrive 15 minutes early to take in a few pints on stage with the cast.

    Daily Wildcat: What is life on the road like in a touring theatrical production?

    Erica Spyres: At first, it kind of felt like a new school or whatever, and you just have to get to know people. I’ve been married four years, so being away from my husband — those things are difficult, but my husband has been great. Doing the show eight times a week gets to be draining. The cast is all really wonderful and really talented. We’re all very lucky to be in close quarters with people who are really great.

    What qualities do you believe are essential in something who wants to pursue a career in theater?

    I would say be a good person to work with, work hard and be tenacious about getting out there and being OK with being rejected. Get in whatever shows you can, and start practicing your skills. I learned most of my skills on stage than in a classroom, and I think it’s a great way to learn.

    What was the audition process like for “Once”?

    It was fun, actually. For the initial open call I went to in Boston, they said to bring in an instrument and accompany yourself on a song. I picked a Damien Rice song, “Amie,” and I practiced accompanying myself. That was the first audition. And then they asked me to come back the next day. Six months later, I was called in for a callback. Overall, it was a really good audition process.

    What are your favorite songs in the production?

    Two of my favorite moments: “Gold” where we all play and dance and sing together as a group. That’s a really magical theatrical moment there. “Say It To Me Now” is one of my favorite songs, since I had watched the movie years ago.

    How is the stage production different from the film?

    It develops the supporting characters more, so you get to know the people in Guy and Girl’s lives. As far as the story goes, it is pretty much the same story.

    Has anything unexpected happened during a show?

    It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, you have to be very prepared. The funniest thing that happened is when the other violinist, who is also named Erica [Swindell], was playing one day and her bow, during “Gold,” bounced and flew off into the audience. So, she kept doing the choreography and one of the guys in the front row picks up the bow and puts it on the stage for her. She was somehow magically able to pick it up in the choreography and start playing again and it worked so seamless.

    What is on your theater bucket list?

    I love Sondheim. Any Sondheim I would be happy to do again. As I get older, I would love to play Desiree in “A Little Night Music.” I played Anne a couple years ago. I would someday love to do “Carousel” and play Julie. Honestly, the best roles I have had have come from shows I didn’t know much about when I auditioned for them.


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