With three Broadway shows (and one major tour) to his credit, a growing groupie fan club, and future plans to direct and produce, Rick Spaans has taken Broadway by storm. He has appeared in both the New York and Los Angeles companies of Beauty and the Beast, the national tour of the Hal Prince production of Show Boat, and the current revival of Annie Get Your Gun. Now Spaans is in Saturday Night Fever, understudying several principal roles and "stayin' alive" every night as a singer and dancer in the ensemble.
How old were you when you knew you wanted to be a performer?
When I was around 10, I did my first children's theater production and I knew I wanted to perform on stage. But, prior to that I don't know if I recognized gymnastics and competitions as performing.
Do you now?
I think I do. I've always enjoyed being up in front of people. I mean, even before gymnastics my sister and I would choreograph routines in our backyard and perform for my parents.
Do you have any personal heroes?
I have to say my parents. Looking back at what they did for us and what they sacrificed for me to be in classes, I really appreciate it now. When you're young, you're not really aware of what you have or don't have. My mom would drive me to class every day. My dad would always be at my opening nights, and both of my parents made me feel like I could do whatever I wanted to do in my life.
You speak with such wisdom, as if you were old.
I am old! (laughter)
I know. But I've always felt older than everyone around. In the last year, though, everyone is catching up to me; I find that I'm finally getting along with people my age. I think, in theater, you have to grow up and act responsibly at a younger age.
Here you are at 25, and your entire career has been in Broadway shows. What do you think of that?
I know how incredibly lucky I am, because I see how some of my friends have struggled. I think I can appreciate it now more than even two or three years ago. It's so nice to be able to survive in this city doing solely what I want to do.
Is there anything else you'd like to do?
I would love to go into producing, directing or choreographing. I was the dance captain for Annie Get Your Gun, so I got to conduct a lot of the auditions. I really liked sitting on the other side of the desk; there's a lot to be learned from doing that.
What's your biggest pet peeve?
I hate it when people come over and pull out my CDs, listen to them, and don't put them back. Or put them back in the wrong case.
How many CD's do you have now?
Eight hundred or so.
Oh, my God!
Yeah, that would be the single most annoying thing for me: if someone disrupts my CDs!
If you could be a tree, a body of water or a flower, what would you be?
I would be a body of water, because it's big and powerful and huge! (laughter) I'm kidding. I don't see myself as a tree or flower, because they just stay in one place. But a body of water takes on so many forms and shapes, and has so much life.
What's your favorite sound?
Even though I don't get to hear it very often, I love going home and hearing my two nieces. Their sounds and laughter are so innocent, and the things they say are precious. You can't help but smile when you hear children--especially those you love.
When was the last time you opened your mouth, inserted your foot, and chewed it thoroughly?
Oh, that's hard. Now that I've gotten older, I tend to really think about what I say more.
What's your favorite four-letter word?
Cell. As in cell phone.
Do you prefer morning or night?
Near or far?
Far. South Park or The Simpsons?
Boxers or briefs?