by Lou Mancinelli and Len Lear
Jarrod Spector, 34, who grew up in Meadowbrook and attended Germantown Academy before moving to New York City halfway through college and chasing his dream of being an actor, has certainly seen his dreams come true.
Spector’s latest starring role on Broadway was in the mega-hit, “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical,” at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre, 124 W. 43rd St. But Spector will be joining with his real-life wife Kelli Barrett for a series of shows at 54 Below, a nightclub on Broadway at 254 W. 54th St. this Oct. 20 to 24 centered on a marital theme titled “This is Dedicated: Music’s Greatest Marriages.”
The official description of “Marriages” is as follows: Newly-married Broadway veterans Jarrod Spector and Kelli Barrett are often asked, “What’s it like to be married to a fellow artist?” Bringing to life the greatest songs birthed from the greatest marriages, the two attempt to answer the question.
From Alan & Marilyn Bergman to Sonny & Cher to Beyonce & Jay-Z, the themes of love, heartbreak triumph, and despair infuse not only these songs but also the storied partnerships themselves. The night celebrates marriage as the force behind this timeless music and tackles the difficult questions behind keeping it all together.
Tony Award nominee Jarrod Spector originated the role of Barry Mann in “Beautiful.” About his 54 Below debut, The New York Times wrote: “Witty, energetic and infused with a jolt of passion!” Spector also played 1,500 performances over six years, more than anyone else, as Frankie Valli in “Jersey Boys,” which was turned into a Hollywood movie last year by director Clint Eastwood. The GA grad left the show at the end of 2012 after playing the lead in the national tour, in Chicago and on Broadway.
Spector’s wife, Kelli Barrett, recently originated the leading role of Lara in Broadway’s “Doctor Zhivago.” She has also appeared on Broadway in “Wicked,” “Baby It’s You!” and “The Royal Family.”
Becoming a Broadway star is a dream he almost abandoned when he was 15 and a sitcom role he’d landed at NBC was lost when the show was never picked up. It was his time in the Belfry Club at GA, a place that also gave Hollywood the Academy Award-winning Bradley Cooper (“The Hangover,” “American Hustle,” “American Sniper,” etc.) that resurrected Spector’s passion for the stage.
And it was GA academics (class of 1999) that enabled Spector to attend Princeton University for two years, where he studied economics, before he left to pursue acting in New York City. At Princeton, Spector performed with The Triangle Club, Princeton’s musical comedy group, which helped propel him back towards what he says he was born to do.
“I started singing when I was 3, acting not long after,” Specter told us in an earlier interview. “My first appearance on a stage of any kind was the Al Alberts Showcase on Philly television when I was approximately 3 1/2. My formal acting training at the Atlantic Theater Club was invaluable, and I still use the techniques and script analysis I learned there for every role, be it for an audition or an actual job.”
To call Spector precocious would be an understatement. He was on Broadway as Gavroche in “Les Misérables” before he was 10. And he told us he continues to “love theater for many reasons, the first being that this is where I’m being hired! But really, there’s nothing like being on stage with a live audience. Sharing the molecules and energy with the people backstage, onstage and in the house makes this a unique and irreplaceable art form.”
Since GA has produced other famous actors like Bradley Cooper and Brian Klugman, both in the class of 1993, we asked Spector if there is something special about the Fort Washington school’s drama and music program? (Its Belfry Club, founded in 1894, is the oldest high school drama program in the U.S.)
“The Belfry Club at GA was wonderful for me,” said Spector. “At a time when I had quit professional acting, it provided an outlet for my artistic energy and allowed me to play roles like Billy Bigelow in ‘Carousel,’ which I’ll likely never be cast in a professional capacity. The ability to grow and stretch and try everything was hugely important during my teenage years.”
When asked what has been the biggest challenge he has faced in New York, Spector replied, “The competition. There is an unbelievable amount of talent in New York, and the numbers really do work against you, so it makes it all the more special when you get your shot.”
For more information about Spector, visit www.jarrodspector.com. For ticket information about the upcoming shows at 54 Below, call 646-476-3551.