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Broadway Bound, Homeward Bound

Broadway hopeful finds big rewards performing with sister at community theater

Though Phyllis Spiece has a comedic role in the Aldersgate Church Community Theatre’s production of "Anything Goes," she is serious when it comes to her future goals. When asked about where she would like to end up, she has a one-word answer — Broadway.

Originally from Fairfax, Spiece, 27, is currently playing the part of Erma in the Cole Porter musical comedy. Erma is one of seven principals in the show and one of three female leads.

Spiece was encouraged to audition for the play by her sister, Sarah Spiece, 19, who has performed in several shows at Aldersgate, including, "Godspell," "Annie" and "Big River."

“I just decided I wanted to come home and spend time with my family,” said Phyllis Spiece. “My little sister has been involved with the theater before. So, I tried out and got a leading role.”

Phyllis Spiece is a 1996 graduate of Robinson Secondary School. Following graduation she continued her education at Lynchburg College, receiving a B.A. in music in 2000, followed by a M.A. in music from George Mason University. During high school and college, Phyllis Spiece was cast in a variety of roles, including Polly Browne in "The Boyfriend" at Lynchburg College and Cinderella’s stepmother in "Into the Woods" at Sweet Briar College.

Adding to Phyllis Spiece’s long list of accomplishments is the summer she spent touring Italy with an opera and a variety of film, television and radio spots.

AFTER FINISHING her masters degree, Phyllis Spiece taught music in Prince William County before deciding to move to New York.

While in New York, Phyllis Spiece went to 10 or more auditions each week, and went to a number of callbacks. She was eventually cast in the national tour of the American Family Theater’s production of "Pippi Longstocking" where she played the role of Mrs. Prysselius.

“I got to see the country,” said Phyllis Spiece. “I was in a different city every day, so I got to see places I had never been before.”

In spite of her many adventures in the Big Apple and around the country, Phyllis Spiece said she has found her time at Aldersgate enjoyable, especially with regard to her fellow cast members.

“It’s been just a wonderful experience working with these people and I’ve made such great friends, probably life-time friendships working through this theater.”

According to the play’s director, Don Neil, the character of Erma is the sexy girlfriend of a gangster named Moonface Martin, played by David Seemiller.

“[Phyllis] is very talented and she’s very flexible," said Neil. "She learned the role and made a lot of adaptations. The accent we’ve got her doing and some of the sexy moves, they’re not natural to her as a person, so she learned them and practiced them until she got them right.”

Both Phyllis Spiece and Seemiller commented on the positive working relationship they have together.

“She's been a lot of fun and been a very good partner,” Seemiller said. “She's a real good actress. Not much you can complain about with her. She's very professional.”

But, just because her sister is one of the play’s leading ladies doesn’t mean Sarah Spiece has fallen into her siblings shadow.

“[Sarah] is an individual, she stands out as an individual on her own,” said Neil. “We ask her to do multiple roles in the show, both singing and dancing and she’s doing extremely well, she has a wonderful singing voice.”

Both sisters said they are happy to be working with each other. “Working together has been fun, it’s been a while since we’ve done a show together,” said Sarah Spiece.

Sarah Spiece recently finished her first year at Queens University of Charlotte in North Carolina. She is a 2005 graduate of Robinson Secondary School.

"Anything Goes" opened on June 23 and will run each Friday, Saturday and Sunday until July 9. Actors and directors alike have remarked on the success of the show and the enthusiasm of audience members.

“To see the audience enjoying [the show] and to hear them laughing, you know you’re doing something right, and you just want to keep entertaining people, it’s a rush,” said Sarah Spiece.