Age & Hometown: 22; Cleveland, Ohio
Current Role: A Broadway debut as Davey, Jeremy Jordan’s second in command, in Disney’s hit musical Newsies.
Making Headlines: A lifelong fan of the 1992 film that inspired his Broadway show, Fankhauser couldn’t imagine making his debut in any other musical. “I have known Newsies for as long as I can remember,” he says. “To find out that I was going to be in the premiere of this stage production? I was pinching myself.” Fankhauser, who once starred as Crutchie in an unauthorized version of Newsies, was the last principal player cast in the musical. “I couldn’t get an audition initially,” he recalls, “but they were trying to find a Davey who could sing it, dance it and act it.” Once he got in, the young actor won the role in only two days. “I had just moved to New York, and it was my first gig. It’s totally mind-blowing every day!”
Rock Star on the Road: Fankhauser’s first professional credit came after his sophomore year at Ithaca College, when he assumed the role of tender gay youth Ernst in the national tour of Spring Awakening. “We felt like rock stars every night,” he says of hitting the road in the Tony-winning tuner. “We were in this extremely popular show about sex and coming of age. We got to do ‘Totally F*cked’ and ‘Bitch of Living’ and people were screaming from the audience.” The fun didn't end on stage, either: “We had our fair share of showmances,” Fankhauser admits with a laugh. “When you do a show about sex and hormones, it was destined to happen.” When pressed if he had a showmance, Fankhauser hesitantly responds, “Um…yeah. I’ll say it.” But no names!
Spring Awakening vs. Newsies: While auditioning for Spring Awakening, Fankhauser was fortunate enough to see the show’s original Broadway cast in action—which inspires inevitable comparisons between that young and talented company and the current Broadway cast of Newsies. “I do think we have something in common,” he muses. “We are both putting on musicals that really give the people what they want, surprise them and leave them with a sense of themselves.” Though the two musicals are very different on the surface, “It’s about a young generation finding its voice, and both those stories have something really relatable to offer,” Fankhauser adds. “They create an energy that you can only find in the theater. It’s an electric buzz the audience has, and it’s different every night. It’s really, really exciting.”