PLAYBILL.COM'S CUE & A: Newsies' Ben Fankhauser

By Matthew Blank
10 Sep 2013

Pop culture guilty pleasure: I guess trashy reality TV. You can probably catch me watching "Dance Moms" or "Breaking Amish."
Three favorite cities: New York, London, San Francisco
First CD/Tape/LP you owned: I want to say it was Ace of Base on cassette. I also vaguely remember an Andrew Lloyd Webber compilation CD.
What are some of your most memorable roles as a kid or teenager and how old were you? One of my first roles was at a theatre day camp. I played Crutchie in a homemade version of Newsies. If you ask my family, however, my career peaked when I made my star turn as Joseph in Joseph… in the 6th grade.
First stage kiss: Taylor Hess. She was the Marian to my Harold Hill in our 7th and 8th grade production of The Music Man. (Hey Taylor!)
How you got your Equity card: I got it doing the first national tour of Spring Awakening.
Favorite pre-/post- show meal: (note where) I love a breakfast sandwich before a matinee. I frequently visit Chop't when I want to get my salad on. I also love some post show sushi. And pizza.
Favorite liquid refreshment: Vita-Coco coconut water. (Hey Vita, did you get the fan mail I sent?!)
Pre-show rituals or warm-ups: I usually like to visit people and chat. I also make my entrance about 20 minutes after the show starts so I have plenty of time to stretch and warm up my voice.
Five favorite Disney characters (not counting Newsies): Princess Tiana - gotta love Anika Noni Rose
The Genie
What has been the biggest challenge about this project? Well, we do a tiny bit of dancing over at Newsies so I think the biggest challenge for me was getting comfortable doing choreography next to some of the best dancers on Broadway. I'll never be as good as Ryan Steele, but I take it one day at a time.
What has been the most fun or fulfilling aspect? Newsies is all about the young generation standing up for what they believe in. Working together to change the world and demand a place at the table. I love to hear from fans that this show has inspired them to make a change, work harder, or stand up for what they believe in. It's the best feeling to know that what I do inspires others to achieve greatness.
Worst flubbed line/missed cue/onstage mishap: When I was on tour with Spring Awakening, I missed an entrance. We arrived in a new city and I didn't properly acquaint myself with the space. I went down the wrong staircase and ended up in some basement. Then, I heard my cue line on stage and I was SO HORRIFIED. Needles to say, I eventually made it on stage and have never missed an entrance since. Lesson learned: explore your theatres!
Worst costume ever: I was in Jesus Christ Superstar in high school and I had to wear a loin cloth made out of a dance belt and cloth. One night, I put it on sideways or backwards or something and well... let's just say there was a slight crescent moon.
If you could trade roles with anyone in the cast for a week, who would it be? Medda, of course. She sings a song called "That's Rich" which has become a personal anthem of mine.
Leading man role you've been dying to play: Bobby Strong in Urinetown
Leading lady role you'd like a shot at: Ti Moune in Once On This Island
Something about you that surprises people: That I was born in Switzerland. (Grüetzi!)
Something you are incredibly proud of: My friends. (Is that corny? I don't care.)
Something you're embarrassed to admit: I've never been to Brooklyn. (Ugh I know!)
Career you would want if not a performer: Probably a teacher of some kind. Maybe a music teacher.
Three things you can't live without: Fried chicken, my piano, my iPad
"I'll never understand why…" … people don't turn off their cellphones when they're seeing plays and movies!! Get it together!
Words of advice for aspiring performers: Be nice to everyone. Learn everything you can. There is always something to learn in every class you take, every song or scene you study, and any movie, play or TV show you watch. Don't compare your journey with anyone else's. Stay true to who you are!