Nick Spangler: From Mountain View to Amazing Race to Broadway

In the first national tour of An American in Paris, which ran at the Orpheum here in September and October, Nick Spangler played dashing Frenchman Henri
Baurel.

The character is reluctant heir to a family business who secretly dreams of becoming a cabaret star. The actor’s family has operated Spangler Mortuaries, based in Mountain View, for almost 80 years.

“My dad is the third generation—I guess third and final —owner,” says Spangler, who will debut a cabaret show of his own next Thursday at Feinstein’s at the Nikko.

But unlike Monsieur Baurel, Spangler has enjoyed his family’s support in pursuing show business ambitions.

“I remember taking that first curtain call and feeling like this is it! This is so awesome,” he recalls of his debut at age 5 as a munchkin in the Los Altos Youth Theater production of The Wizard of Oz.”

“My mom was great about finding me great vocal coaches and dance lessons (until I got to junior high and was teased),” he recalls.

One of Spangler’s two younger sisters, Joyah, also a New York-based actress, is flying out to join him for a few numbers at Feinstein’s.

But it was his other sister, Starr—once a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, currently working at Facebook —who partnered with Spangler in his highest profile performances ever: The siblings were the million dollar winners of television’s Amazing Race back in 2008.

The year before, during his senior year at the NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Spangler was cast in the Off-Broadway production of The Fantasticks.

After graduating, he stuck with the show. “Somehow, with roommates and keeping costs down I was able to survive in Manhattan at minimum Off-Broadway pay.”

During a hiatus from Fantasticks for a regional production of La Cage Aux Folles in Denver, Spangler received a frantic call from sister Starr, who had recently turned 21—old enough to be on the television competition she and her brother had watched together since childhood.

“She’d found out that Amazing Race was accepting audition tapes and said we had to do it,” recalls Spangler. “She flew out to Colorado right after her college graduation. I was in rehearsal, but somehow, between dinner breaks and late at night in the Residence Inn, we put a tape together. A couple months later we were called back.”

The prize money proved to be “a big safety net,” Spangler says, describing the impact of the reality show on being a young working actor in New York.

He was able to put a downpayment on an apartment with an affordable mortgage, and pay for his wedding (Wife Monica was on the cheerleading squad with Starr), all the while keeping his nose to the audition grindstone.

Moving up to Broadway from The Fantasticks, Spangler has won featured parts in The Book of Mormon, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella.

He also had the rare opportunity to originate a Broadway role as best man Greg Madison, in the 2015 musical It Shoulda Been You, alongside major Broadway names including Tyne Daly, Sierra Boggess, Harriet Harris, and Edward Hibbert under the direction of David Hyde-Pierce.

An American in Paris had Spangler on the road for a full year from October 2016 until this fall. It was his first experience with a national tour—ambitiously undertaken with a wife, toddler son, and family dog in tow.

“Most of the company flew between cities,” he recalls. “But we we drove our RAV4. The first ten cities were one week engagements. On my one day off, we were driving 12 to 16 hours.”

Amazing Race was 30,000 miles in 23 days. This was 33 cities in 52 weeks—so much more exhausting.”

 

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