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Amy Spanger's Elf Help Guide

The Broadway veteran returns to the Great White Way as Jovie in the new holiday musical Elf.

By New York City
Amy Spanger
(© Joan Marcus)
Amy Spanger
(© Joan Marcus)
Amy Spanger came to New York in 1992 with a $2,000 loan and a self-imposed three-year deadline to land a Broadway role. Two years and ten months later, she made her Broadway debut in Sunset Boulevard, and has since been seen on the Great White Way in such shows as Chicago, Kiss Me Kate, Urinetown, The Wedding Singer, and Rock of Ages. Now, Spanger is playing Jovie in the new Broadway musical Elf, which is playing a limited holiday run at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre. TheaterMania spoke with Spanger about her journey to New York, her latest role, and the holiday season.

THEATERMANIA: Did you always aspire to perform on Broadway?
AMY SPANGER: Performing is something I always did as a kid. I performed in community theater at a young age; I went to theater summer camp. It was fun to me. But I didn't know I could make it a career. I didn't have anyone around me that did this! At 19 years old, I started booking professional jobs in the New England area. Then I met people from New York and they said I can make it there.

TM: How did your role in Elf come about?
AS: I was doing a reading for Casey Nicholaw, the director, of another musiscal, Robin and the 7 Hoods, and he thought I should be involved with this show. So then I did two readings and the full-scale workshop last year.

TM: Is your character different than in the movie, where she was played by Zooey Deschanel?
AS: Yes. The role evolved from the film. I am a dark, gothic chick now. Jovie is the opposite of the Buddy character, but they're also alike in that they are two freaks walking around New York City. Jovie is hiding her love for Christmas and she is a hopeless romantic underneath the clothes and makeup.

TM: Will we see a cast recording of Elf?
AS: I hope so! They are in talks about it, but it has not been officially decided. There should be a cast recording, in my opinion. The music is great.

TM: What are your favorite things to do in New York during the holiday season?
AS: I like to connect with my friends and family. My brother lives in Weehawken, New Jersey, and I am excited to be with my newest nephew. He is just over a year old. I will be around friends, drinking wine, and thinking about how grateful I am for my life. I love seeing the window displays, especially Macy's. Macy's is a huge part of our show. We are doing the Thanksgiving Day Parade there this year. I also love going to Rockefeller Center and ice skating, which is also part of our show.

Mark Jacoby, Matthew Gumley, Beth Leavel, George Wendt,
Sebastian Arcelus, and Amy Spanger star in Elf
(© Joan Marcus)
Mark Jacoby, Matthew Gumley, Beth Leavel, George Wendt,
Sebastian Arcelus, and Amy Spanger star in Elf
(© Joan Marcus)
TM: What were the holidays like for you growing up?
They were great. I was always with my mom's side of the family for Christmas Eve. It was either at my house or one of her two sisters. We would order Chinese food. Oh, and we played this game "Bite The Bag." It starts with a brown paper bag. Everyone has to stand on one foot, one person at a time. You bend over and cannot touch down with your hands or foot and you pick up the bag with your teeth. After one person picks up the bag, you have to cut an inch off of it. I always won, because I have good balance.

TM: You were in San Diego over the summer playing Alana O'Dell in Robin and the 7 Hoods. What is she like?
AS: Alana wants to get married, but her boyfriend is very flirtatious. Alana is a strong woman though. I get to sing these incredible songs, including "Same Old Song and Dance." I am belting the whole time throughout the song and these guys are falling over themselves -- lighting Alana's cigarettes, getting her chair. This is what I always fantasized!

TM Is the musical heading to Broadway -- and will you be part of it?
AS: I hope so, on both counts, but we haven't been given official word. The producers are looking at the fall 2011. We are doing another reading in December. I'm just about the only actor to be involved in this throughout the whole process.


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