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Motown The Musical - Broadway

A new musical based on the life on Motown founder Berry Gordy.

Motown's Charl Brown and Kinky Boots' Stark Sands Look Back on Their College Bromance

Motown's Charl Brown and Kinky Boots' Stark Sands Look Back on Their College Bromance
Photo by: Jenny Anderson
Charl Brown & Stark Sands

Back in 1997, University of Southern California freshmen Stark Sands and Charl Brown were placed in the same orientation group. More than 15 years later, these best friends are starring in two of the biggest Broadway shows of the season. So how do the star of Kinky Boots and the Motown: The Musical describe their legendary bromance? Read on for this duo’s dynamic answers to our Broadway Besties survey, and spend a day with this terrific twosome by clicking through our exclusive gallery, shot by Broadway.com photographer Jenny Anderson.

Check out our exclusive photo gallery of Charl and Stark!

How and when did you meet your BFF?
Stark: In 1997, the summer before our freshman year at USC—we were in the same orientation group.
Charl: We met at our freshman orientation the summer before we began college at USC.

What was your first impression of each other?
Stark: It was a bit of a whirlwind orientation so we didn’t really get to hang out, but I remember thinking he was a great guy and hoping we might be friends.
Charl: Honestly I thought, "Okay, here we go, who is this sparkling little all-American perfect boy! They are gonna be all about him at this theater school!" (I was right!)

When was the moment you knew it was BFF material?
Stark: Charl lived in a big blue house sophomore year with a bunch of other people, and there were always parties there. Late in the night I walked through the kitchen and he was cooking grits. I was impressed. So we spent the rest of the evening bonding over grits.
Charl: Sophomore year I moved off campus into a house with some other theater majors, which of course became the theater school party house. One night in the middle of a party I got hungry and started making some cheese grits in the kitchen by myself. Once the aroma made its way to where people were hanging out, in comes Stark without missing a beat asking, "Are those grits? Can I have some?" I thought to myself, "Now what does this white boy know about grits?" (That was before I knew he was from Texas.) I was impressed. I poured him a bowl and we sat in that kitchen away from the party bonding for an hour. We have been best friends ever since!

Name three adjectives to describe your BFF.
Stark: Kind, caring, talented!
Charl: Intelligent, giving, talented.

What do you call each other?
Stark: Chizzle my Nizzle, Cheezy my Neezy
Charl: I call him Stizz, Stizzle, Sparky, Sparkle, any of the above.

If you formed a band together, what would its name be?
Stark: Stizzle and Cheez (this would be our hip hop group)
Charl: I Kill Ya Dead (inside joke)

What’s the best gift your BFF ever gave you?
Stark: The gift of lifelong friendship. After the grits, Charl was instantly someone I could count on to be there for me when I needed it. He's a wonderful, loyal person.
Charl: Stark actually gave me my first iPod when I was going out on tour in Europe. That changed my life!

What should the title of your BFF’s memoir be?
Stark: You're a Good Man, Charl E Brown
Charl: An American Prince. Volumes 1-25 because he remembers everything, in vivid detail!

If you could be in any show together, what would it be?
Stark: Pippin. We did it in college and had always talked about doing it again professionally. We were able to go see a preview of the revival a few weeks ago and were blown away.
Charl: Duh, Pippin! We starred in that together senior year of college and have always wanted to do it again professionally!

What annoying habits do you find adorable in your BFF?
Stark: Charl invented something called "Second Night Out" when we were in college (on a Vegas trip, if memory serves) where we'd get home from a long night out (late, like 2 or 3 AM) and he'd change clothes, freshen up and rally us to go back out to keep partying. Nobody else would ever go, so I'd always be the one to accompany him on the adventure, whether I wanted to or not. Because what else are best friends for? We ended up making a LOT of memories that way.
Charl: Stark is a very good and very detailed storyteller! I think that is one of the reasons he is such a great actor. But he will NOT let you escape until he has finished every gory detail! But you gotta love him for it!

Which trait do you admire most about each other?
Stark: Charl is so determined and hardworking. I'm so proud of him for his commitment to this profession and the journey he's taken to get to where he is.
Charl: I think I admire him most for his humbleness. I have watched his success grow and grow from starring on TV to films to Broadway but he has not changed one bit! He is still Sparky!

Who is your friend’s celebrity equivalent and why?
Stark: Beyoncé, obviously.
Charl: For some reason Matt Damon always reminds me of him. I think they are a similar type, Stark a younger version obviously. But I think they also have a similar approach to material and translate the same way on screen. I could see Stark playing all of the roles Damon has played in films.

What about your BFF makes you jealous?
Stark: He can dance his FACE off. I'm not much of a dancer, I don't have any training but I can fake it. Charl is so graceful and lithe, and he makes it look so effortless. Also, he gets to meet a different Motown legend every week these days, so yeah, that makes me a little jealous, too.
Charl: He gets the final bow in his show. I'm not there yet!

I can always count on my BFF to…
Stark: Make me laugh.
Charl: Make me smile.

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