Keith Spencer serenades Bristol Riverside Theater

Singing in his high school chor­us provided Keith Spen­cer with an op­por­tun­ity he nev­er had ima­gined.

“At the time, I was a brass play­er in a jazz band. I played the trom­bone. One day, the band dir­ect­or found a vo­cal chart, and since he knew I was in chor­us thought I might know the tune, which was Memory from Cats,” Spen­cer re­called.

“So he shoved a mi­cro­phone in my hand and told me to sing. The prob­lem was I didn’t know the melody line, so I sang the bari­tone part. The dir­ect­or had me go back and learn the melody for an up­com­ing con­cert. And with my knees knock­ing, I came out front, star­ted to sing, and ab­so­lutely loved it. From then on, I was hooked,” said Spen­cer, who was so hooked he went on to be­come a pro­fes­sion­al sing­er.

He is ap­pear­ing at Bris­tol River­side Theat­er in Lights Up On Broad­way through Aug. 21.

Spen­cer is a BRT vet­er­an — he said he’s ap­peared on stage at Bris­tol more times than he can count. The show con­sists of hits from such fa­vor­ite mu­sic­als as The Pro­du­cers, The Mu­sic Man, Show­boat and many more. But be­fore Spen­cer went on to be­come a pro­fes­sion­al sing­er, he at­ten­ded Penn State, where he ma­jored in mar­ket­ing. 

“I al­ways had a pen­chant for busi­ness as well as medi­cine. But I quickly real­ized I couldn’t keep do­ing all the mu­sic I wanted to do if I went to med school, so I needed to fig­ure out how to keep mu­sic in my life,” he said. “That left the busi­ness route for me, which I’m now happy about since I have a great full-time job in in­form­a­tion tech­no­logy. Today, my only chal­lenge is find­ing time for my mu­sic.”

Hap­pily, too — though not ne­ces­sar­ily for his par­ents — Spen­cer got an op­por­tun­ity to be­come a fea­tured so­loist with Dis­ney World’s premiere a cap­pella en­semble, Voices of Liberty, in Or­lando. He jumped at the chance to per­form with Dis­ney, which was a dream job. But that meant he had to leave col­lege for a year. 

“But I prom­ised my moth­er I would go back to school, and I did,” he ad­ded.

Since then, Spen­cer has pur­sued his love of mu­sic with many pro­fes­sion­al com­pan­ies, ran­ging from BRT to Phil­adelphia’s Prince Theat­er to the Broad­way tour of An­drew Lloyd Webber’s Mu­sic of the Night star­ring Betty Buckley. 

Oth­er not­able roles in­clude Coal­house Walk­er Jr. in Rag­time, Joe in Show­boat, Billy in Ca­rou­sel and so many more. He’s also done con­cert per­form­ances and backup vo­cals for such artists as Roberta Flack and Rose­mary Clooney.

Spen­cer, 39, whose wife Amy is an op­era sing­er, is a new fath­er who also reg­u­larly per­forms as a vo­cal­ist with the jazz per­form­ance en­semble Jump City Mu­sic.

“How lucky can one man get?” he muses. “I am ex­tremely con­tent with my life. I con­sider my­self in­cred­ibly blessed to have a nice, bal­anced life and have the op­por­tun­ity to do all that I do.”

He ad­mit­ted that he’s nev­er done Broad­way yet, and doesn’t care if he ever does.

“Ap­pear­ing on Broad­way takes di­li­gence and con­nec­tions and many oth­er things,” he said. “I know some won­der­ful sing­ers who haven’t yet been on the Broad­way stage. But Broad­way’s not everything. You have to fig­ure out what else bal­ances your life and if per­form­ing any­where you can makes you happy. To me, I can do good re­gion­al theat­er and tours and con­cert work, as well as have a beau­ti­ful fam­ily, too. That ab­so­lutely works for me!” ••

For times and tick­et in­form­a­tion, call 215-785-0100. 

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