Although still in the infancy of his career Paul Spicer has an impressive list of credits to his name. After training at Arts Ed - where he was the recipient of the Andrew Lloyd Webber Scholarship - he immediately made his West End debut as the juvenile lead in Cameron Mackintosh's production of The Witches of Eastwick.
He then played Nick Piazza in the UK tour of Fame and last year returned to the West End as Billy in the Boy George musical Taboo. His other theatre credits include Prince Charming in Cinderella opposite Julian Clary, an international production of Evita in Beirut, the UK tour of Saturday Night Fever and the UK première of the Off-Broadway musical Little by Little.
Spicer is also co-founder and associate director of Notes From New York, the West End platform for contemporary US musical theatre in which he regularly performs in also. This month (November 2004) Notes From New York celebrates its first anniversary, with the fifth and final one-off concert in the series (see News 20th October 2004). Spicer stars alongside Emmerdale's Amy Nuttall and S Club 7's Jon Lee in the gala performance, which takes place at the West End's Trafalgar Studios on Sunday 21 November 2004.
Spicer then goes on to take the role of Prince Alexander in Nottingham Playhouse's Christmas panto Sleeping Beauty from 26 November - 15 January 2005.
Date & place of birth
I was born on 17 May 1981, in Rochford, Essex.
Lives now in...
I live in Tooting, South London.
I trained at Arts Educational in Chiswick, London.
First big break
The Witches of Eastwick because I was offered the role while I was still at college. It was extremely exciting I had been to see the show as a student and loved it, so it was like a fairy tale, I was a very lucky boy. It's just a shame it happened when it happened, in the climate of September the 11th a lot of things closed, but it was a wonderful show, pure theatrical genius.
Career highlights to date
Being in the musical Taboo, purely because it was such a diverse show to be involved in. Doing that straight after Fame was very intense because it was a small cast and an intimate show - it was really an emotional roller coaster on and off stage, but it will always hold a special place in heart.
Favourite productions you've ever worked on
Taboo, as I've said, because it covered every goal post but in terms of fun, I'd have to say Fame. I was only 20-years-old and I toured the UK with the most amazing cast, it was just a ball.
Jo Riding was an inspiration when I was a kid so when I did Witches with her she was a wonderful influence, she was so laid back and easy going and that was just the sort of energy I needed at the time. Also my perennial co-star Julie Atherton - we've worked together again and again, she's my stage wife.
I really admire Matthew Warchus, although I've never worked with him. He's so diverse I love the way he can move from a musical like Tell Me on a Sunday to something like Buried Child I'm really looking forward to seeing what he does in 2005. Also a guy called Nikolai Foster, who's inspirational. I met him when I was auditioning for something and we had a connection. Later he approached me to perform in a production of Evita in Beirut and just to watch him create a huge production on an empty stage with no set was astonishing.
Favourite musical writers
I have an affinity with the Americans as you know from Notes From New York. Of the new writers, I love Adam Guettell and a guy called Tim Acito who has just written a show called Zanna Don’t which is opening on Broadway in spring 2005 - he's one to look out for. Of the Brits I admire George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, they wrote Just So and worked on the score to Mary Poppins.
There are so many different sides to this. In a movement sense DV8 are brilliant and I love their work. From a musical theatre perspective, I like the way Matthew Bourne can transcend every genre, I also really like Stephen Mears who I worked with on The Witches of Eastwick. Also Chris Hocking who was my mentor as I grew up - he's recently done Jekyll and Hyde and Fiddler on the Roof, he taught me in every aspect of theatre and managed to mould me.
What roles would you most like to play still?
This is a difficult question because all I want to do is keeping working and stretching myself. I want to create roles, and to move from musical acting to straight acting, I don't want to tie myself down. I intend to do new work and touch base with every single style, keeping it varied, because that's what life's about.
What's the best thing you've seen on stage recently?
I really adored The History Boys at the National. Alan Bennett is one of our most prolific writers and to have his new play sold out at the National is terrific. The ensemble are amazing, the direction’s sharp and it's brilliantly cast - the leads are flawless, there's not one person on stage you'd want to recast.
What would you advise the government - or the industry - to secure the future of theatre?
I've been thinking about this a lot recently. The government is always going on about how we need new work to reinvigorate theatre yet they don't seem to be doing anything about it, and of course money is a problem. I mean the Bridewell is closing, such a shame, they've been putting on musicals by people you've never heard of for years. I worked there with Carol Metcalfe when I was 18 and she was so encouraging, they deserve a lot more support. The phenomenon of things just opening and closing overnight is terrible, Warhol said everyone would get their 15 minutes, but that's not healthy for our industry, things come and go too quickly now and there's no stability.
If you could swap places with one person (living or dead) for a day, who would it be?
I'd like to swap places with the head of MI5 and find out all the things we don't know about, like all the tunnels that are supposed to exisit London. I was on London Eye the other day gazing at the MI5 builder and wondering about that.
The Breeders Box by Timothy Murphy; I've read it about four times.
Favourite holiday destinations
I'm a bit biased because I was brought up in and out of Germany, so Germany and Austria are favourites. Staying in a chalet up a mountain in the middle of nowhere clears out your system. I also went to the Maldives, which is paradise but after 14 days even paradise wears a bit thin!
Favourite after-show haunts
Blacks in Dean Street. There's also a restaurant on Wardour Street which I love called Busaba, it's one of my favourite places in the whole of London, you feel so comfortable there.
Obviously Whatsonstage.com, I go on your site a lot, it's so good at documenting what's going on, and in a world of speculation it's nice to have things confirmed. I also like CastPartyNYC.com, it's the site for this place called Birdland run by a guy called Jim Caruso. All the Broadway stars go there on Monday nights and do impromptu numbers, it’s wonderful and the site documents what's been going on - it would be like Teatros having a cabaret evening. Also Broadwayworld.com is good for keeping up with what's happening over the pond. I've also got my own website, www.Paulspiceronline.com and we have one for Notes From New York, NotesfromNewYork.co.uk.
If you hadn't become a performer, what would you have done professionally?
I think I would have been a journalist or a writer because I love English language and literature. I think I will be one day, theatre isn't the be all and end all in my life - I feel like I've got a book in me.
How did the Notes From New York shows come about?
Well it was about a year ago and I was looking around the West End thinking, there’s nothing I’m excited about here – I saw a gap. So I thought you’re 23 years old, why don’t you just create your own shows? So Neil (Eckersley, producer) and I decided to take a risk and make it happen. But we didn’t know it would be a year’s worth of shows, it was originally planned as a one-off. To have achieved so much with it is astonishing, I can’t quite believe it. We wanted to bring new musical theatre material a new audience and we’ve done that.
Why do you continue to perform in Notes From New York?
Julie (Atherton) and I have done three out of the four so far and will be reunited for the gala. I think it’s because I'm being selfish. I enjoy it, and I wouldn't normally get to sing these songs, except in an audition, so it's a great outlet for me.
Why do you think it is important to have this platform for American work? (what about British Work)?
Because I want people to fall in love with it as much I have, I use music as therapy and it has helped me through some very difficult times in my life. I do think British work needs a similar platform, but it's so difficult to find that body of work, it's out there, we just need to find it, then we'll do it. I'd love to present new British music as much as new American stuff.
Do you have a desire to perform in the US or any plans to create a similar show for the US audience with British music?
I would adore to work there, it would be amazing, and as you get older there are more channels into the US which you have to keep nurturing and then wait and see. As for creating a British equivalent to Notes From New York for a US market it's something that we've already thought about so let's wait and see.
What's your favourite song of those you've performed in any of the Notes From New York galas?
That's difficult..."Louder Than Words" which was the finale from the second in the Notes From New York series at the Donmar. It's from the Jonathan Larson musical Tick Tick Boom. I've never seen an audience react like that at the end of a number - there was an incredible roar, that song built everyone up, it's so hopeful and life affirming.
Next year you are planning another set of concerts, what can you tell us about that?
There are plans, Notes From New York isn't the end of the work we’re presenting, now it needs to evolve and that's what it's going to do. What comes next will be just as exciting, but different to what we've done before.
What are your plans for the future?
Well personally I'm really interested in film and, as much as musical theatre is high on the agenda, I want challenge myself in 2005 and move in new directions, I'm hoping it will be a year of discovery for me and I've got a few exciting opportunities in the pipeline.
Paul Spicer was speaking to Hannah Kennedy
Notes From New York, the final gala performance, takes place at the West End's Trafalgar Studios on Sunday 21 November 2004.