Imagine getting this phone call:
Get dressed and head to midtown, because you start rehearsals for The Book of Mormon on Broadway today!
For those of us who grew up performing on the stage, imagining the day we make our Broadway debut is a truly magical, astonishing, and fulfilling feeling. We constantly look forward to and dream of that moment the curtain rises, the lights go up, and the music begins; the moment we finally make our debut. Typically, the journey to Broadway is undoubtedly long and difficult, often taking many years for most people. Yet, some make their debut at a much younger age, sometimes while still in college. Charlie Franklin, currently in the Broadway cast of The Book of Mormon, is one of these lucky and talented few.
Franklin was kind enough to speak with us and give us an inside look into what it’s like to be performing eight shows a week on the Great White Way.
Charlie began performing at a very young age, inspired by his mother Lisa Franklin, a performer and voice teacher herself. Along with his brother and two sisters, Franklin participated in many community and regional theatre productions growing up, including at Park Playhouse and the New York State Theatre Institute in Albany, New York. He then went on to pursue a BFA in Musical Theatre at Pace University, graduating in 2014.
During his senior year of college, Franklin was cast in the short lived yet acclaimed Broadway musical The Bridges of Madison County, and, as he tells us, the moment he got the call from his agent is a moment he will never forget.
Franklin – “I had just gotten back from the final callback when I got the call, and I was in class at Pace University. It was one of those feelings that I can never describe, but I saved the voicemail and every time I find myself scrolling past it, I click on it and get that feeling all over again.”
Upon graduation and closing the company of The Bridges of Madison County, Franklin went on to perform in The Lord of the Flies at the Denver Center and in Parade at Lincoln Center. He joined the cast of The Book of Mormon in December of 2014.
TheatreNerds – What was the audition process like for The Book of Mormon?
Franklin – “Well, when I first went in for the show it was for the first national tour a while back. And it
was pretty standard – singing, sides, and dance – but then I was told I was still a little green. I went in again right after “Bridges” closed, summer of ’14. I didn’t hear anything so just assumed I didn’t get it. But I guess I stayed in the pile because out of the blue I got a call one morning, and my agent yelled ‘Get dressed, and head to midtown because you start rehearsals for The Book of Mormon on Broadway today!’ It was pretty nuts.”
TheatreNerds – What is your daily routine like on a one show day?
Franklin – “I try to wake up at a decent hour. So let’s say 9am. Most of the time I have SOMETHING planned so I don’t just sit around like a bum, whether it’s coffee with a friend, writing, or an audition. But I always eat breakfast and drink coffee pretty much first thing. I try to only have one coffee a day but that never really works out. And it really varies from there. Before my call I like to, at some point, drink a green juice and hit the gym. Before the show, I do some sort of vocal warmup and stretch. Then, after the show, I go home and chill out, watch something on TV or something just to give my voice/body a cool down and some rest.”
Franklin’s schedule on two show days is quite similar, waking up a few hours before the show and making sure he is vocally and physically prepared to perform.
Franklin – “…except on Saturdays, I play Settlers of Catan with cast members between the shows. Then on Sunday nights, we go out.”
Performing eight shows a week is no doubt an extremely difficult task, taking a toll on performers both physically and emotionally. Franklin told us how he makes sure his body is in tip top shape to keep up with the rigorous performing schedule.
Franklin – “8 shows is nuts, a lot of the time, people who aren’t in theatre don’t realize how hard our job is. And I’m on the low part! But you have to be so healthy and careful with everything you do and eat all day every day. If I find myself at a loud restaurant or bar, I have to make sure I’m not talking too loud. I had to stop playing softball because I hurt my shoulder doing it. It’s tough, but it’s totally worth it and doable once you figure out a routine.”
I always say this, but it’s so important: Be the best you that you can be. Try not to say anything bad about anyone.
But, like with any other profession, one must develop a balance between work and personal life.
Franklin – “Well, it can be difficult because my schedule is the complete opposite of a ‘normal’ schedule. Mondays are my favorite day, evenings are busy, and weekends are crazy. But, lucky for me, my personal life is filled with mostly theater people so they get it when I say I can’t go crazy at a party or need to go to bed instead of going out. But it’s always a challenge. I’m always a little sad when I can’t go home for parent/sibling birthdays and certain holidays, or when I can’t go to brunch on the weekends, but I feel so lucky to be where I am. So, I do what I can!”
Franklin left us with his advice for aspiring performers.
Franklin – “I always say this, but it’s so important: Be the best you that you can be. Try not to say anything bad about anyone. It will get around to them. And it can completely ruin your career. To be in this business, or really any business, you have to be a good person. My program director at Pace’s motto was ‘don’t be an @$$hole.’ It’s one of the most important thing, if not THEE most important thing.”
Learn more about Charlie: www.charliefranklin.net
Charlie on Twitter & Instagram: @Chazafranklin
Big Thanks Charlie Franklin & Theatre Nerds Contributor Gianluca Russo