Deaf Louisville actress is Broadway's newest star

Deaf Louisville actress is Broadway's newest star
Bill Frank (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Bill Frank (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A young woman from the Bluegrass has made quite a mark on the Great White Way by signing her way to stardom.

Sandra Mae Frank, 25, just wrapped up a run on Broadway starring in the Broadway musical Spring Awakening. Her performance has been called one of the Top Ten of 2015 by the Huffington Post.

The musical pairs hearing actors with deaf actors, like Sandra. Sandra told NBC News that she recalled telling her parents she wanted to sing.

"Oh, ok, you are deaf," she said through an interpreter. "Here I am singing. Singing in a different way."

I sat down with her father, Bill Frank, recently. He joked he's called the Spring Awakening Fandom Dad because he's the number one fan. When he met us he was wearing a Spring Awakening t-shirt and hat.

"You must be immensely proud," I said to Bill.

"Ask anybody I work with," he laughed in response. "Forget about that she's deaf and on Broadway. Your kid is on Broadway. That's incredible. And she's the lead!"

The show has gotten rave reviews, especially his daughter's performance.

"It's just crazy to see all these people who are complete strangers to go crazy over her," Bill said.

Sandra was born in Louisville three months premature and by the age of 1 1/2 her parents learned she was deaf.

She attended the Louisville Deaf Oral School as a child. Then later Manual High School before transferring to the Kentucky School for the Deaf and Boyle County High School.

She was on the cheerleading team. 

"If you told her she couldn't do it because she was deaf then she was going to be better than everybody else despite the fact that she was deaf. She never let it be an obstacle," Bill said.

Sandra graduated from Gallaudet University in Washington, the premier school for the deaf and hard of hearing, and majored in theatre.

I spoke to Sandra using the ZVRS System, which allows an interpreter to translate after Sandra signs a response.

She said her parents "never said don't do it. They just said be prepared for it."

Her parents weren't prepared for her quick rise to stardom. It started with an online call for an audition for Deaf West Theatre's Spring Awakening in Los Angeles.

The reaction was so positive that the production was brought to Broadway, giving Sandra the opportunity to work alongside Academy Award winning deaf actress Marlee Matlin. She is already in talks for a movie of her own.

Her Father said he always knew that his daughter had that "it" quality.

Spring Awakening is expected to go on a national tour in 2017. Hopefully, it will make a stop in Louisville with Sandra Mae Frank.
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