“Once” the name says it all! This show is a once in a lifetime experience of music, media, acting and its all wrapped up in a life changing story. That is why I jumped at the opportunity to interview Erica Spyres who is part of the ensemble from ONCE. Erica Plays the Ex-Girlfriend in the current Broadway Across America Tour. I am a huge fan of the film version and I am looking forward to seeing this show when it comes to the UT Bass Concert Hall later this month.
Laura Jordan: What drew you to work with this production?
Erica Spyres: I saw the film back in 2007 and bought the soundtrack immediately afterwards. When I moved from my home in Missouri to Boston, it was my soundtrack for my first long winter there. Then, when the tour was in Boston last year, one of my friends wrote on my Facebook wall, “You need to be seen for this!” I responded that I would if I knew when auditions were happening. Like out of a movie, another friend messaged me the details on the open call in Boston that was happening the next week. I was so excited to work on a musical that utilized actor-musicians and was full of music I actually listened to and loved.
Laura Jordan: Why do you think Glen’s music is so powerful?
Erica Spyres: As the Bank Manager says to Guy, “It’s raw.” He sings and plays from the heart so you can’t help but become emotionally connected to it. Also, it’s musically interesting, especially from the pop-folk genre. And I also think that because so many Americans have Irish roots, there is something in that folk sound that just speaks to our hearts.
Laura Jordan: What song do you connect with most and why?
Erica Spyres: My favorite song is “Say it to Me Now.” No matter how many times I hear it, I’m always moved by it. The imagery of the lyrics – “I’m scratching at the surface now and I’m trying hard to work it out” and “I’m looking for a sign in this dark, uneasy time” – is haunting. It’s such a simple song and yet packs a huge punch.
Laura Jordan: Like the main character, Guy, have you ever given up on something and been brought back to life?
Erica Spyres: When I was in college, I stopped acting for about a year. I was really overwhelmed with so many things in my life at that time and I reconsidered everything I’d been studying for three years. When I saw a local production of Terence McNally’s Master Class, I was so moved that I auditioned for the next show I could do. That show ended up leading me to meet a mentor, Robert Westenberg, who guided me to pursuing theatre professionally.
Laura Jordan: What do you hope your audience takes away with them from the show?
Erica Spyres: I always hope that it inspires one or two aspiring artists in the audience every night to pursue their dreams. And for non-artists, I hope that we can help give them a fun couple of hours where they can escape into a magical musical world.
Laura Jordan: How do you connect to this story personally?
Erica Spyres: I connect to a story that is honest, realistic, and hopeful. This isn’t a happily ever after story, nor is it bleak and hopeless. People make tough decisions, they hurt each other, they love each other, they inspire each other, and they make sacrifices for the ones they love. I think everyone can connect to these people.