After more than a decade in New York City, Los Altos native Nick Spangler returns to the Bay Area next week with the touring production of “An American in Paris.”
The Mountain View High School graduate plays a prominent role in the musical, scheduled to run Tuesday through Oct. 8 at the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco.
From his childhood acting debut as a Munchkin in Los Altos Youth Theatre’s production of “The Wizard of Oz” to the shows he performed in at Children’s Musical Theater San Jose and his first shot on Broadway in “The Book of Mormon,” Spangler said his career as an actor has been a natural progression.
“CMT as an organization is kind of the foundation of my work ethic and my passion,” he said. “But Los Altos Youth Theatre was definitely the seed where I really fell in love with theater and musicals. Everything is a stepping stone from one thing to the next, so it totally makes sense where I’ve ended up.”
Spangler, who has lived the past 15 years in New York, plays Henri Baurel in “Paris,” a George Gershwin-inspired musical that won four Tony Awards in 2015. Set in post-World War II France, the show follows an American painter, Jerry Mulligan, who falls messily in love with a mysterious French girl, Lise Dassin. Spangler joined the cast nearly a year ago.
But when Spangler isn’t performing under the bright lights at the Orpheum dressed in his character’s three-piece suits and extensive selection of bow ties, he plans to spend time with family and visit his favorite Los Altos spots.
“The Round Table Pizza (on First Street) is actually one of my favorites, and that’s from someone coming from New York after 15 years,” Spangler said as he chuckled over New York’s inability to convert him to its style of pizza.
The actor’s wife and 2-year-old have joined him on tour and will be staying with family in Mountain View during the show’s San Francisco run.
“I’m really excited to just spend time with my family – you know, my parents and my siblings,” he said. “This will be by far the most time I’ve spent on the West Coast since I left for college 14 years ago.”
Despite having been gone for so long, Spangler said he took a little piece of home with him throughout his years in New York.
“Growing up in Los Altos and Mountain View – and I get it from my dad a little bit, too – but the way people are there is they have a really strong work ethic and really high expectations from people,” he said. “I think I brought that with me to New York and my auditions and getting told ‘no’ a certain number of times.”
Family and fans
Spangler’s father, Jim Spangler, echoed his son’s sentiments when it came to the 32-year-old actor’s homecoming. Jim, who owns Spangler Mortuaries, radiated with pride over the phone as he recalled how he felt watching his son perform on Broadway.
“It’s incredible because the theater (Broadway) is the pinnacle of his chosen career,” Jim said. “You can’t believe the size of the audience sitting there and watching your son doing what he wants to do.”
During the monthlong run of “Paris,” Jim said he plans to see the show multiple times. He’s even organizing a group of approximately 120 of Spangler’s friends and family to attend on the same night. Spangler’s grandparents, longtime Los Altos residents Sue and Marty Spangler, will be among them.
Marty, who sang similar praises about his grandson’s talent, said he always knew Nick was going to make it.
“That’s what he wanted to do, and he worked very hard to get there,” Marty said. “He’s got an awful lot of talent, too. I’m very proud of him.”
But while Spangler’s family is thrilled to see him back on the local stage, they’re mostly just happy to have him home.
“(I’m excited for) just being able to stand next to him as people say hi and see how he’s grown to become a father and fabulous husband,” Jim said.
For tickets to “Paris” and more information, visit shnsf.com.