Today, we are thrilled to share an exclusive interview with Spencer Jones. Mr. Jones is a member of the first national touring cast of the show, where he is a swing and understudies the role of Chistrey. Enjoy his insights into the life of a swing below!
What was your first professional acting job, and how did you land it? What did you learn?
My very first job was the European tour of “Grease”! It was the BEST time of my life, still to this day (well, besides Wicked, of course =) ) We opened in Berlin then stayed there for 3 months before moving onto the rest of Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Prague. I was 19 years old, living in NYC and was auditioning and working my ‘side job’ at the Olive Garden in Times Square. The audition process was interesting because there were a lot of German press at the auditions as it was a big deal that a full American company was going to be putting the show on. After the initial audition and two callbacks, I was in a cab on my way home from the 2nd callback and I got a call saying I got the job! I remember running up and down the street in front of my apartment with my roommates screaming for joy, so happy!!!!!!!!
I learned that I was in love with performing and I loved being able to travel the world and see these amazing things that not all people get to see…and get paid for it!
How did you come to audition for “Wicked” and what was the audition process like?
My very first audition for Wicked was at an Open Call for Non-Equity Girls…ha! The exact opposite as I am an Equity Boy! I had been away from the city for the boys audition so just decided to go to the girls. Well it helped as I stood out and was called back numerous times. After that initial time, I was called in by the casting company to come in (about 6 months later), for an immediate replacement. It went very well, there were only about 8 guys there, but someone else got it! About 2 months after that, I got a call saying a track had opened and would I be available! YES!
How were you initially rehearsed as a swing? Are you rehearsed in one track or do you simply learn bits of all of them?
The OVERWHELMING process begins with one track. After you learn that track, it’s onto the next until all 8 are in your brain. The first 3 or 4 are the hardest, but after that, it’s like solving a puzzle and you just fit the pieces in where they go.
On top of learning all the dance moves, blocking, and special effects you are responsible for, the swings also have to learn every vocal part of the show. It really is a tough gig and takes a special person to take on this challenge.
What was your first track to perform in the ensemble? Which is your favorite?
My first track was ‘the rat track’. It’s a singer track that has a lot of ‘bit’ moments. Such as pushing Glinda out on her luggage in Shiz, Averic during Fiyero’s entrance, etc. My favorite track is the ‘Lover’ track. I’ve done it over 150 times, so I feel very comfortable in it, which isn’t something a swing can usually say.
What is your favorite part about performing in the ensemble? as Chistery?
The best part about being in the ensemble of Wicked is being able to tell the amazing story, through our movement and songs, because the audience enjoys it so much. It’s a great feeling to be in a show that people love and connect with.
Do you have any onstage bloopers you would like to share?
YES! I have had SOOOO many…..
My first time on for one of the tracks, I rode the bike out before Courtyard, rode it around the statue, got off and put the kickstand up, then walked away. Seconds later you hear a LOUD BANG, I look back and the bike had fallen into the Shiz backdrop. Guess the kickstand wasn’t up after all, ha! I ran over and picked the bike up off the lights and stood it up, but EVERYONE on stage was staring and laughing, ha! I’ll never forget that one!
Another one, I was on for Chistery, and he enters downstage left after Glinda comes out of the bubble before Shiz. Glinda says her line “our paths did cross, at school”, I enter with the suitcase, and am supposed to freeze…. Well i froze, but my suitcase slipped out of my hand, bounced on the stage, bounced off the stage and then landed in the orchestra pit. And the whole audience laughed, that was pretty embarrassing! ha
Do you have any advice for aspiring performers?
Dream BIG and follow that dream with all your heart! In order to thrive in this business, you have to be completely committed to bettering your talent and finding the jobs (and having fun along the way). It’s not for everyone, but those that stick with it and have the drive to push through the failures and rejections will find that the greatest reward is being able to do a show, 8 times a week, and maybe travel and get to see the world! There’s no job out there like it!