Broadway debut for two | May 18, 2012 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Arts & Entertainment - May 18, 2012

Broadway debut for two

'Book of Mormon' cast includes a pair of Peninsulans

by Kate Daly

When Nic Rouleau started performing at age 8 in a Peninsula Youth Theatre production in Mountain View, he had dreams of making it to Broadway. Little did he know he would achieve that goal by age 24.

Now 25 and a graduate of Sacred Heart Preparatory in Atherton, Rouleau is working six days a week as the standby for one of the lead roles in the Broadway hit "The Book of Mormon." Since July, he has appeared as Elder Price more than 40 times at the Eugene O'Neill Theater.

The Tony award-winning musical is an irreverent take on Mormon missionaries working in Africa, as portrayed by the creators of the television show "South Park."

The musical is sold out through the rest of the year, and Rouleau expects it to run in New York for many more years.

His contract extends through September, and after that he's hoping "to do the role more full-time" in New York, he says. A nationally touring company will bring the show to San Francisco in November, and include one member of the Broadway cast, he says.

The current cast also has another Peninsulan. Nick Spangler, a graduate of Mountain View High School, is also making his Broadway debut in "Mormon." Spangler is a swing, which means he understudies various singing and dancing roles.

That can also mean he's very busy. On April 1, he wrote on Twitter: "Onstage for my 167th performance in The Book of Mormon today... Swing power! #nobodycomestoworkanymore"

Also in April, Spangler played Rolf in a benefit concert performance of "The Sound of Music" at Carnegie Hall. His previous shows included an off-Broadway production of "The Fantasticks!" and regional productions of "Fantasy Football: the musical?" and "Avenue X."

Spangler briefly swapped the stage for the small screen in 2008, when he and his sister Starr won the CBS reality show "The Amazing Race."

Before heading for the East Coast, Spangler did theater in the Bay Area with Peninsula Youth Theatre, Children's Musical Theater in San Jose and other companies.

As for Rouleau, he sang a cappella with the quartet Pulse at Sacred Heart during his four years there. After graduating in 2005, he went on to study musical theater at New York University, where Spangler also studied. An agent signed him on after seeing him in a student production his junior year.

Rouleau, a blond, 6-foot tenor, then worked in summer stock theater in New London, N.H., where, he recalls, "We made $40 a week, we built all the sets, made all the costumes, rehearsed during the day, and performed at night."

After college, Rouleau spent a year playing Woody in "Toy Story" for Disney Cruise Line. The following year he toured the country playing Emmett in "Legally Blonde."

A year ago he won a ticket lottery to go see "The Book of Mormon," and remembers walking out and telling a friend he wanted to be in the show someday.

Then, he says: "It really happened quickly. I was in the right place, at the right time, and knew the right people." He auditioned and landed the part of standby.

"I always have to be alert and ready to go on," he says.

One night he learned at 11 p.m. that he was going to be making his Broadway debut the next day. He notified his parents and they took a red-eye flight cross-country to make it there in time.

Recently, when Menlo School drama teacher Beth Orr took a group of 30 students to see the show, Rouleau went on as Elder Price.

"He was really, really entertaining," says freshman Rebecca Shoch of Woodside. "The best part about him was his facial expressions; they were very exaggerated."

Kate Daly writes for the Almanac, one of the Weekly's sister papers. Weekly arts editor Rebecca Wallace contributed to this story.


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