Ashley Spencer
(© Tristan Fuge)
Ashley Spencer
(© Tristan Fuge)
Ashley Spencer first came to our attention as a finalist on the NBC competition series, Grease: You're The One That I Want, which later earned her a spot in the Broadway revival of Grease as Sandy. Since then, she's appeared on Broadway as Amber Von Tussle in Hairspray and as one of the Divas in the original cast of Priscilla Queen of the Desert.

Now, Spencer is taking on the role of small-town girl Sherrie in the hit Broadway musical, Rock of Ages, at the Helen Hayes Theatre. TheaterMania recently chatted with Spencer about the show, learning how to work the stripper pole, and celebrating the Tony Award nomination of her fiancé, Newsies star Jeremy Jordan.

THEATERMANIA: You just went from the disco-era to the 1980s. Which musical genre do you prefer?
ASHLEY SPENCER: I like them both for different reasons. I was born in 1985, so I didn't live through either era, but I love listening to these songs on the radio.

TM: Do you have a favorite song from the show?
AS: My favorite is "Heaven/More Than Words." It's a very sentimental part of the show. Sherrie is on the phone with her parents. Her dad picks up and isn't supporting her. He doesn't want her in Los Angeles. It's this super musical theater moment.

TM: What was the most challenging thing about rehearsals?
AS: The hardest part was working with the stripper pole. I was watching YouTube videos and then practicing! I'm getting the hang of it.

TM: Do you relate to your character, who leaves her hometown to pursue her dreams?
AS: Definitely. I left Canton, Ohio for New York City to be a Broadway star. It's an amazing journey for Sherrie. I like to say that there are three Sherrie's in this show. She changes so much throughout the musical.

TM: How do you feel about the journey Sherrie goes on during the show?
AS: First, her relationship with Drew is so touch and go. There is so much miscommunication between them. I think when they miss each other, they are finding themselves. Drew wants to be a big rock star, and Sherrie wants to be an actress, but becomes a stripper. Ultimately, she learns how to take care of herself and how to be independent, which she already is in a way, from the beginning. She has to become a bad girl to find out who she really is. And then she ends up with Drew at the end.

TM: Your fiancé, Jeremy Jordan, actually started out in Rock of Ages. Did he give you any advice about the show?
AS: He told me to be myself. The script is strong, so he wanted me to just read the lines honestly.

TM: How did you celebrate his Tony Award nomination?
AS: Since the nominations were at 8:30am, we were still in bed when they were being announced. So Jeremy got up, grabbed our dog and the computer, and then came back in bed. We started watching it and when his name was announced, I grabbed his hand so hard. It was a great feeling.