It could be argued that Spector was destined to become a performer. At 6 years old, he was a Star Search champion, rocking out to a Bobby Darin classic on national television. At 9, he was wowing Broadway audiences as Gavroche in Les Misérables. Then, at 15, he retired. Spector was going to Princeton to become an investment banker.
Luckily for all of us, that venture was short-lived. After starring roles in Jersey Boys and Beautiful, the actor can currently be seen on Broadway as Sonny Bono in the Tony-nominated musical The Cher Show. Spector recently sat down Broadway Direct to talk about what makes The Cher Show so special, $4 pita, and the newest addition to his family.
1. What inspired you to become an actor?
Well, I wish that answer were as simple as the question. The reality is that I started singing long before I could make the decision to be a singer, and I started auditioning long before I was able to consciously make the decision to be an actor. I made my Broadway debut in Les Misérables when I was 9. I was auditioning since the time I was 6. So, before I had any say-so, my parents had me in audition rooms. Now, that’s not to say I didn’t love what I was doing. I did. But I guess by the time I actually made the decision to be an actor, it was already after I had quit the business at 15 and gone to Princeton. I was studying economics, Chinese, and finance, which I hated. I was also heavily involved in the Triangle Club, which is one of the oldest, maybe the oldest, musical-theater group on any campus in the country. I found that was the only thing I wanted to do, the only place I wanted to put my attention. So what inspired me to go and be an actor again? It was sort of undeniable. It was the only thing I could imagine doing. So I moved to New York, went to an acting conservatory for three years, and that was that.
2. Who in your field inspires you?
Truly, the person who inspired me the most is my wife, [Kelli Barrett]. She is the most talented, dedicated, hardworking perfectionist, which she would be the first to admit can sometimes get in the way of things, but it’s also a thing that leads her to be great. Her telling me that she’s proud of me or that I’m doing good work is a huge part of the reason that I work as hard as I do.
Let me just say, when I saw Kelli in that first episode of Fosse/Verdon … Wow. I had to pick my jaw up off the floor!
Right?! So you know what I’m talking about. She’s unbelievable! She is definitely my inspiration. But look, that’s not to say I don’t have acting and singing idols, but in my day-to-day, she is the inspiration.
If you had to guess, what is Kelli’s favorite role that you’ve played so far?
Oh, I don’t know. She’s … Kelli … [Spector asks my question directly to Barrett.] She says she loves all of my stuff. Isn’t that supportive?
3. What is it about The Cher Show that audiences love?
I think that it’s no one thing. It is doing a handful of things really well. I think, and I am going to be really careful with my words here, it is the only feminist, pro-woman show of the season. It’s really about a woman. It’s empowering a woman. It’s a woman’s journey. It’s a woman saying “I’m not too old to be relevant.” There are all of these amazing things that it’s doing that a lot of shows maybe are not at the moment. Also, despite its glitz and glam, there’s heart and a lot of authenticity underneath it. The fact is that the glitz and glam is authenticity because you couldn’t do The Cher Show without wigs and sequins and bright lights. And there’s tons of authenticity in the costuming, the wigs, the way she speaks, the dialogue within the comedy hour. The music is as authentic as you can make it because everyone did it so painstakingly. So it is delivering on all of the things you’d expect in terms of glitz and glam and fun and great music and spectacle, but then it also hits you with all of its heart that you weren’t expecting, and sort of an empowerment that you weren’t expecting. You come for the songs and you stay and you cry for the story.
4. If you didn’t have to sleep at night, what would you spend your time doing?
Kelli and I play a ton of board games. We are nerds at heart. So I think playing games. And we just got a brand-new beagle puppy, so now I’d have to say I’d spend a lot of my time cleaning up poop, I think. But not necessarily cleaning up the poop. Playing games with Kelli and playing with our dog, I think, are the things we’d probably spend all night doing. [Editor’s note: The puppy’s name is Josephine, and you can find some quality, wholesome content on her Instagram page, @puppyseedbeagle.]
Do you have a specific board game that’s your favorite?
Yes, there is a game called Terraforming Mars that sounds super-obscure and nerdy but it is actually quite popular. There’s a phenomenal website called Board Game Geek, that if you are kind of nerdy and into board games, that ranks all board games. Like, every board game that has ever existed. Terraforming Mars is, like, No. 4 on the list. So we are in good company in our particular love for that game.
5. What is your favorite part about living in New York City?
The food. Not even a question for me, that was an easy answer. There are some really great things about living in New York. There are some really not-great things about living in New York. But one of the undeniably, always fantastic things is the food. You can get not just the variety, but, like, when and where it’s available. Every neighborhood is distinct and packed with authentic, amazing food. And it’s just, it’s gotta be the food opportunities.
You can’t just say food and then not give me any recommendations.
Oh, sure! I mean what’s fun about New York is that there’s everything. Our favorite restaurant probably inside the city is this place called Marea; it’s this really upscale Italian seafood place. But then, you know, there’s also Mamoun Falafel that’s been down on MacDougal since the ’70s and it’s like $4 for a pita. So, they’re equally amazing in their ways and they’re equally sort of so uniquely New York.
You can catch Jarrod Spector as Sonny Bono in The Cher Show at the Neil Simon Theatre or online on Instagram and Twitter @jarrodspector.
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