IU grad comes full circle with performances in Indiana Festival Theatre
The last time Zachary Spicer was on Indiana University’s campus, the Greencastle native had just graduated with a bachelor of arts in theater and anthropology. Now, nine years later, the New York-based actor has returned to the same stage where he performed his first IU show during his sophomore year.
Since his times as a lead in “Happy Birthday, Wanda June,” Spicer has built an impressive resume, including appearances on television shows including “Louis,” “Gotham,” “Blue Bloods,” “CSI: NY,” “Law & Order SVU” and “All My Children” and has a slew of on- and off-Broadway shows under his belt.
“My career and my time at IU have been strangely all tied together,” the actor said. “The two shows I auditioned my senior year here were “Wit” and “Macbeth” and, incidentally, those are the two shows I’ve done on Broadway.”
Spicer is starring in Indiana Festival Theatre’s “As You Like It” in the Wells-Metz Theatre, which is directed by Jonathan Michaelsen.
“Jonathan was one of the first directors I ever worked with, so to be able to do all of this again here with him is really great,” Spicer said.
The actor is also starring in “A Gentleman from Indiana,” which follows the journey of a New York journalist who gets tired of New York politics in the business and comes to own a newspaper in a small Indiana town.
“I don’t have to do a whole lot of deep digging for this character,” Spicer said. “The character kind of awakens to the beauty that is this life that seems a little more authentic in Indiana, and that’s not difficult for me at all because the second I come back to Indiana, I remember all of the great things I love about it.”
Eye contact during conversations, people not immediately getting on their phones at a restaurant and strangers holding doors open for each other are all among the things Spicer misses when he leaves Indiana for New York.
“There’s a wholesomeness here, and it seems like everyone’s main focus is not just, ‘How do I get ahead?’,” he said. “Here it’s more about the quality of life, how you treat each other and the kind of person you are instead of what it is that you do.”
Having relatives nearby is an added bonus.
“My grandpa, who is also an IU grad, is 94 years old, so it’s great to be able to spend this time with him and my family,” Spicer said. “It means a lot to me.”
Spicer’s career has not always gone smoothly, though. After graduating from IU, he attended the Circle in the Square Theatre School in New York. But when the 6-foot-2 actor didn’t start landing roles, his agent dropped him and he ended up working as a security guard for Shakespeare in the Park.
“I was protecting actors who had already made it. My job was to stand outside the shows I wanted to be doing,” Spicer said. “It was very humbling.”
He continued to go to auditions, however, and after three years without a role, he was cast in the Tony-nominated revival of “Wit,” starring Cynthia Nixon.
“That was a huge, huge milestone,” Spicer said. “When I got to tell my mom and my grandfather for the first time that I was going to be on Broadway, that was pretty cool.”
Spicer used the opportunity to continue to learn — an approach he takes to every professional endeavor.
“You should learn something from every single job you do,” he said. “I may have acted for an hour of the 10-hour rehearsal, but the other nine hours was just me sitting there watching Cynthia Nixon deconstruct this play, which was one of the most complicated contemporary plays written in the last 20 years.”
In fact, the actor credits his mentors with a lot of his success. And the rest? He says it comes from personality.
“Just be nice to the people you work with. If you’re a good person and you work hard and you keep going at it, regardless of what industry you’re in, you will make it sooner or later,” he said.
That attitude has its roots at IU, Spicer says.
“College is all about finding what your passion is, and it definitely did that for me,” he said. “But more than that, it started to shape how I was going to be as a person. That whole thing about being somebody that people want to work with is something I learned here.”
Though his run at Indiana Festival Theatre ends at the end of the month, Spicer has big Indiana plans in the works. After starting his open production company, Pigasus Pictures, last year, the actor has been working with screenwriter and director — and his best friend from IU — Paul Shoulberg to produce the feature film “The Good Catholic.”
“I’m a huge movie nerd; that’s why I originally got into this business,” he said. “It’s always been my dream to do a feature film.”
Spicer and Shoulberg started working to bring the film to life in February and now have “attractive” names on board thanks to a New York casting director.
“We’re going to be shooting it later this year in Bloomington,” Spicer said. “This is kind of the ultimate goal that we’ve set for ourselves.”
If everything goes as planned, Spicer knows how he’ll celebrate another dream accomplished.
“That’ll be my next good phone call home,” the actor said. “‘Hey, Mom, we just made a movie.’”
Reprinted with permission from The Herald Times. See original article here.