Erica Spyres, center right, on stage during a performance of "Once," now playing a ONCE Tour Company, 2015, Joan Marcus

Erica Spyres, 33, had limited acting experience when she moved to Boston eight years ago from the Ozarks. The Allston-based actress has since taken home the 2014 Elliot Norton Award for her role in SpeakEasy Stage Company's production of “Tribes," and landed the part of Ex-Girlfriend/Reza in the national tour of “Once,” the Tony Award-winning musical now playing at the Shubert Theatre.

After 16 months on the road, it must be nice to be playing at home.
It’s really pretty cool to see that huge marquee outside of the Shubert and know this is happening. I remember walking through the Theater District and hoping, one day, maybe. But when I got here, I really identified, and still do, more as a musician than an actor. I feel so fortuitous to find something that showcases the things that I do well.

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It does seem like there wouldn’t be a lot of opportunities for a violinist-vocalist in the theater.
Right. But the trend toward actor-musicians is happening right now. “Once,” “Company” and the “Sweeney Todd” revival have all done actor-musician shows. Who knows how long it will last. I tell everyone to keep up with whatever instruments you play. You never know when it will be the thing that gets you the job.


You certainly are part of an incredibly talented ensemble.
These people are amazing. Most of them play a bunch of instruments. I play basic trumpet, guitar and piano, but violin and voice are my specialties. It’s inspiring to be with so many talented musicians who make we want to learn more and do more, to stretch beyond my limitations. Every night I watch some of them and think, "Hmm, keep practicing, Erica."

You seem to be right at home on stage with them.
Having grown up playing and singing folk-like music with family and friends, this show feels really right to me. It’s more like a chamber musical, very ensemble-heavy, so I sometimes feel like I’m just playing and singing with friends.

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Tell us about your upcoming benefit show.
After our December 20 show, we will head over to the Jacob Wirth Restaurant for a musical benefit for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. The entire cast will be singing and playing, some original stuff, some covers, mostly with a bluegrass lilt to them. We did a similar thing in D.C. for Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors Foundation. It was such a great night.

"Once" until Dec 27
TheShubert Theatre
265 Tremont St., Boston
$48 - $98

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