Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Happy Birthday, J. Robert Spencer!!

I feel like it's an awesome person's birthday every day! By "awesome," of course I mean an extremely talented Broadway actor whom I love. (Check out all of them from Hugh Jackman to Norbert Leo Butz under the "Spotlights" category here)

Today's birthday is one of my favorites. He is a Broadway star who became a Tony nominee after only being in three Broadway shows! Of course, this guy is J. Robert "Bobby" Spencer (but I guess if you read the title you already knew that). So check out his amazing Broadway journey from being a swing to a Tony Award nominee!

I'll begin with a video many Broadway fans might not have seen. This is a clip from a Broadway.com vlog done by Kyle Dean Massey (who played Gabe) for Next to Normal. Click on the picture below and watch a clip of my favorite moment from the "Normal Life" vlog in which Bobby talks about an on-stage mishap and is just hilarious in general!

Bobby started his Broadway career as a swing in Side Show in 1997 which starred Alice Ripley and Emily Skinner. And that is where he met his future wife Jenny Lyn Suckling. He took a break from Broadway for almost ten years, returning to be in Jersey Boys in 2006 as Nick Massi. Up to then, he had never really gotten to show his full potential on stage, even with a main role in Jersey Boys (I love Jersey Boys, but let's face it: bless his heart, Nick Massi really just sings the really deep "ba dum" bass lines and other such words).

So while he was in Jersey Boys, Bobby participated in a reading of a new show called Next to Normal, starring Alice Ripley with whom he of course had not worked in about a decade. As he told Kathy Henderson of Broadway.com, he read as the psychiatrist in that version. He couldn't be in the Off-Broadway installment because he was still in a contract with Jersey Boys. But even during the reading, he knew he just wanted to play Dan, the husband in Next to Normal, currently being portrayed by Brian d'Arcy James. Bobby really loved the role because, as he told Ms. Henderson, he loved, "[Dan's] sense of purpose and his devotion and commitment to Diana [played by Ripley]. I’m a hopeless romantic myself and I love my wife tremendously, so I understand his desire to make his wife better."

Fortunately for Bobby, BDJ took the title role in Shrek the Musical, slated to run at the same time as Next to Normal, which Bobby was sure would go to Broadway. So in 2009, he got his wish and finally starred on Broadway in this role he was very passionate about. And he did such a phenomenal job that of course he got a Tony nomination. (Side note: It was quite unfortunate that he was up against "the Billys" in Billy Elliot for the Tony, because honestly, who in their right mind wouldn't give a Tony to three little boys who danced their hearts out every night? Not even Audra McDonald could beat that)

Watch this video of J. Robert Spencer singing "I've Been" from Next to Normal at Broadway in Bryant Park.

Now, he is touring the country singing oldies with a group of guys from the original Broadway cast of Jersey Boys called The Midtown Men (who I talk about on this blog all the time) They're brilliant.

Sally Henry www.BroadwayWorld.com/author/Sally-Henry // Twitter: www.twitter.com/bwayginger // Facebook: www.facebook.com/singularsensationbway

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