Fantasticks Actor Spangler Jumps Into TV's "Amazing Race"

News   Fantasticks Actor Spangler Jumps Into TV's "Amazing Race"
Nick Spangler, the Off-Broadway actor who is playing Matt in The Fantasticks at the Snapple Theater Center, admits that his appearance as a competitor on the new season of "The Amazing Race" wasn't about fame or even money.
Nick Spangler
Nick Spangler

Though the top prize for the winners of the 13th season of the Emmy Award-honored series is $1 million, Spangler said he was seduced by "the adventure of it, the experience of it…"

"It's because this show is so bad-ass!" the 23-year-old Spangler told in the days leading up to the 8 PM (ET) Sept. 28 series premiere. "It's so cool. There's nothing like it. It's just so much fun, it's so crazy — you get to fly around the world on somebody else's bill."

Spangler — whose racing partner is his sister, former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader Starr Spangler — did confess that once he was cast in the race he realized there might be a positive side effect. Any national TV exposure can be a good thing for a young, videogenic actor.

But exposure can also burn; he said he knew he had to check his behavior to a certain extent. Past seasons of the show have revealed jerks and bullies among competitors, and they are criticized on internet message boards and vilified by die-hard fans and media watchers.

Yet, the race "was certainly not a career thing," Spangler said. "Starr and I had dreamed about it before I even made acting my profession." The Spangler siblings have watched the show since its first season, when they were still teens. "When I was in high school, [watching "The Amazing Race"] was a big family event," Spangler said. "I got my whole family hooked on it during the very first season…"

Nick and his sister Starr Spangler
photo by © CBS

Back then, Nick and Starr harbored a hope to compete in the series, but their youth was an obstacle. Once they hit the race's eligibility age of 21, they created a video application and were selected on first try. "Starr and I, we already had a really close relationship," Spangler said. "We saw the opportunity to create memories."

The show was taped in April and May and the outcome is kept secret until the series finale. CBS has already announced that the race begins at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and follows teams across 30,000 miles in 23 days to Brazil, Bolivia, India, Russia and Kazakhstan and beyond.

Starr, who is now 22 and no longer a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, and Nick grew up in a competitive family in Northern California, the actor said. Dad was a state champion wrestler in high school, their brother was a state champion cross country runner in high school.

"All our family game nights were competitive," Spangler said.

In the weeks leading up to their adventure, the siblings (in their separate cities) worked out at the gym and ran to get themselves in racing shape.

Spangler explained, "I'd run on a treadmill and if I was getting tired or wanting to quit, I would imagine Starr and I running to the finish line, and it would kind of give me chills and I'd be able to run for another five minutes."

Spangler goes on a journey into the wide, cruel world nightly as Matt in the musical The Fantasticks. The clean-cut actor played the Mute in the production for nine months before graduating to juvenile lead Matt, who goes from innocence to experience, singing "Soon It's Gonna Rain," "They Were You" and "I Can See It" — that famous song about roads that take you away.

If he and Starr are not eliminated in the first episode of "The Amazing Race," they will battle other teams in an international race against the clock, navigating roads, airports and waterways and completing tasks cooked up by the producers. Past teams have done everything from lug a side of beef through the streets to milking a camel — and drinking the warm milk.

Spangler's theatre career started at the age of five when he appeared as a Munchkin in a local production of The Wizard of Oz. He continued to pursue musical theatre and attended college at New York University where he performed the leads in Bat Boy: the Musical and The Last Five Years. His other theatre credits include Jimmy in Thoroughly Modern Millie (Gateway Playhouse), Jean Michael in La Cage aux Folles (Arvada Center) and Matt in The Fantasticks (Casa Manana). His Off-Broadway performance as Matt was recognized with The Theater Hall of Fame's 2008 Elaine and Jerry Orbach Musical Theater Fellowship.

The Fantasticks plays The Snapple Theater Center, 210 West 50th Street at Broadway. For tickets call (212) 921-7862 or visit

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