An Interview with Casting Director Alison Franck, Franck Casting by Tony Nation
Alison Franck (CSA) is a casting professional with over 20 years of Broadway, Off-Broadway, Touring, Regional Theatre, TV, Film, Commercial and Voice Over Casting experience. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing her.
When was the moment you knew that casting was the job for you?
I think I knew when I was in high school – I used to record whatever I was watching in order to see who was who in the credits (this was before the Internet) & I would save all playbills and memorize actors bios. Then I would go to the library and spend hours reading about who played what on Broadway.
I wanted to know actors and what they did… I was such a busy body about it all. I realized at some point there was a job for me…. Well, when I decided I didn’t want to be an actress any longer.
What are some of your favorite musicals and plays?
I love Sondheim! So Sweeney Todd, Into the Woods, Sunday in the Park with George. (note: I have never cast a single Sondheim musical) I loved a play called “Our Country’s Good”…I love the usual big hits: A Chorus Line, Rent & Hamilton. I also love 1776, She Loves Me & Ragtime. I could go on and on.
I really need to see more new musicals. Recently I really loved Come from Away ( and I know that’s not so recent)
What can you tell us about the process of casting for some of your projects?
Because I mostly cast non-union tours. The main thing to note is – I’m looking for people who want the job & are available for the job. I post breakdowns on Breakdown Services/Actors Access always – then Backstage & Playbill Online most of the time & also on social media (Facebook & Instagram) it’s amazing to me how many different places I need to post.
I sometimes am shocked at how random it all is these days. I’m not just going to start calling people I know… I need to open up all jobs to all actors.
If you could cast any musical or play right now, what would it be?
Something by Stephen Sondheim. Literally anything.
Or a brand new musical. I also would love to work on projects like Come from Away, that uses a small chore of actors to play many roles… it requires actors who can do anything… I also loved that the actors all looked like real people. So it’s all about talent… that’s my favorite.
What excites you about an actor when you see their work?
Strong acting choices. Actors who do not play it safe, but based on their materials (songs, sides, monologues) really make fresh and interesting choices because they have invested in the materials… that includes understanding the time period, the age of the role & their work status/regionalisms/body language.
People over the years have misinterpreted my take on how people dress or what shoes they wear as a part of how I cast. Actually no. I just can sometimes tell based on what an actor is wearing that they’ve thought about the character. I also never make the actual casting decisions. So at the point an actor shows up to audition- it’s out of my hands and it’s all up to creatives.
My excitement is usually over how that decision influenced their acting choices and how the room responds to them. Sometimes dressing “differently” (meaning not wearing pink when auditioning for Elle Woods) is exactly what might make the actor stand out. It’s not always a matter of what’s expected, but rather, what works for that actor….
It’s part of a thought process that is a series of choices. What someone is wearing is superficial, yet it is part of their story they are sharing with the creatives.
What’s your best advice for actors today?
Things are changing so much- especially with self taping. It’s still a new hybrid & I’m still trying to navigate it. I feel like some actors love self taping but are never available for in person callbacks- and think we can cast from a Zoom callback & my creatives really want and need to see people in the room.
And some actors won’t self tape… and honestly- I’ve been open to skipping the self taping and just bringing people in from talent reels… but this is how I work. It’s not always up to me. I just am trying to get the best people in the room. I may want to suggest.. self tape to the best of your ability, but the goal is an in-person callback. (For theatre)
Alison Franck (CSA) is a casting professional with over 20 years of Broadway, Off-Broadway, Touring, Regional Theatre, TV, Film, Commercial and Voice Over Casting experience. For a decade, she was the Casting Director for the prestigious regional theatre Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey, where she cast over 50 productions with some of the theatre community’s finest talent.
Notable credits at Paper Mill include the Broadway transfer of I’m Not Rappaport starring Judd Hirsch and Ben Vereen, Anything Goes starring Chita Rivera, The Baker’s Wife starring Alice Ripley, The Chosen starring Theodore Bikel and John Lloyd Young, Baby starring La Chanze, Norm Lewis, Carolee Carmello, Michael Rupert and Chad Kimball, The Full Monty with Elaine Stritch, The Importance of Being Earnest with Lynn Redgrave, and was the original Casting Director behind the Broadway transfer of Godspell, which included Telly Leung and Uzo Aduba. Off-Broadway Projects include It’s Just Sex and the original replacement casting for The Donkey Show (directed by Diane Paulus).
Tony Nation is a partner at the Actors Connection, and a professional actor who has worked in all areas of Show business. You can currently see him on HBO’s THE REHEARSAL in the pilot episode, in season 3 of THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL and in an upcoming animated feature film in 2023.