From NFA to Broadway

Louise Doiron, Staff Writer

Christopher Faison is an NFA grad and former Norwich resident. Participating in theater since the age of nine, Faison achieved his dream of making it to Broadway. After graduating in 1996, Faison moved on to work with the former Spirit of Broadway (now the Chestnut Street Playhouse), Up With People, (an international touring ensemble made up of people ages 17-29), and he has starred in famous plays such as touring with The Book Of Mormon, My Fair Lady, Hello Dolly, and many others. 

Faison spent ten years of his career on a cruise ship touring around the world with the show, The Book of Mormon. In ten years, he certainly got to know the show.  

“My favorite show was The Book Of Mormon. [The] first national tour of The Book Of Mormon was a blast. It was so much fun to sing that music, to do that choreography, to be with that family of people, to travel where we got to travel, and to deliver the message that love is love. That was probably my favorite production,” says Faison. 

Things for Faison have not always been so rosy, however. When out of work, he lived the life of a struggling actor. 

“When I got my first part on Broadway, I actually had to call my agent back at the moment he called me. I was busy because I was returning some jeans to the Dollar Store because I was broke, and all I could afford to buy was jeans from the Dollar Store. I mean that’s how passionate I was about acting and my career. I called him back and it literally blew my mind. It went in one ear and out the other because it was such an amazing, emotional, impactful experience. It was like I finally gave birth to something that I had been waiting for forever,” says Faison.

Nothing was going to get in the way of Faison’s dream. To say that he performed on Broadway is something that he is most proud of. 

“Being on Broadway is the dream for all actors. It’s what we want. It’s what we strive for, and to tick that box in a Tony nominated, Tony Award winning, musical revival that was My Fair Lady, was tremendous. It was phenomenal,” says Faison.

Faison’s mother, Carol Marshal, has been with him through everything.

 “His performances just fill me with so much joy, and I love it. I love him dearly, and I love seeing him perform,” says Marshal.

With the support of those that really matter, Faison has made his dream come true, and he hopes to inspire others to pursue their dreams just as he did.

“I couldn’t do anything without my mom and my best friend Mellony Morroght, who I did shows with at NFA. I couldn’t do anything without having both of them there, in the audience. They both came up from Norwich to see me in New York, and it was absolutely phenomenal,” says Faison

Also, by Faison’s side is fellow actor, Derek Corriveau. Though his livelihood does not rely on theater, like Faison’s, Corriveau shares the same passion and drive as his friend. Seeing one of his dearest friends go off to Broadway has inspired Corriveau to find his feet.

“His success has kind of started a little fire. I mean, I’m still here in Norwich. I haven’t made the move yet. But I think it has ignited something in me to maybe finally take the step and go for my dream as he did. He is definitely influential, and motivatiational,” says Corriveau

Faison’s rise to Broadway and achieving his dreams has impacted those near and dear to him.

“Oh my God, it was amazing. It was a thrill for me. I know he had worked to get there for a long time, and it’s something that I wanted to do myself but to actually see him go off, to live his dream was the coolest thing,” says Corriveau

While at NFA, Faison participated in countless plays.

 “I did a lot: Pump Boys and Dinettes, Dream Girls, The Robert Bride Groom, chorus concerts, student one acts. You name it, we did it,” says Faison

Faison and Corriveau worked on their first play together in 2000 on a show called The Bridge Burner. 

It was great actually working on characters with him, and we cast opposite of each other, so we were partners. It was fun to work scenes and figure out the relationship,” says Corriveau.

As a child, Faison always had a passion for theater, especially singing. Those around him knew success was in the cards for him.

“I was always the dramatic one. I will never forget there was a day when we were in the car driving and the radio stopped working, and I said, ‘That’s okay we have me’…and the rest is kind of history,” cays Faison.

From an early age, Marshal knew that her son would go on to do amazing things, but she was not sure what that would be. 

“I thought he would do something a little bit different. I never really thought of him in  the field of acting, but instead it was singing. Because Chris is so talented, multi-talented, he could go anywhere with his talents in any particular field,” says Marshal.

Faison credits timing and a supportive environment at NFA, in part, to his success. 

“That old saying about being in the right place at the right time is so true. I was able to come to NFA at a time that was critical and pivotal in my success and journey as an actor. I was able to learn with great teachers who had a fantastic performing arts program for me and the students at the school. I would say that growing and learning in a supporting environment like NFA was really, really cool,” says Faison. 

Starting anywhere, whether it be a big city or small town, depends on who you are as a person, not necessarily where you are. The individual has the power to determine his or her own future and that’s exactly what Faison did.

“I think starting off in Norwich would depend on the individual. Depending on the surroundings they have and the help they have. All leading to getting on Broadway,” says Marshal.

Though Faison got his start in Norwich, he has spent the last few years living in New York. He is currently touring with Hello Dolly, but he hopes to return to his hometown and take a break from the big stage in the near future. 

“I’m exploring possibilities of moving back home. I think that there’s a need for me here, and [a need for] my talents and gifts. I think maybe I would like to come to the Chestnut Street Playhouse and see them working with a professional actor,” says Faison. 

“It would be great to have Chris back. He’s been in New York for quite a while now, so it would be cool to have him around and to see him more often. To work on stage with him again would be so amazing,” says Corriveau. 

If Faison were to move back to Norwich, his presence could be beneficial to the community.  

“I think if he was back home he would be able to reach out to the community and get the community involved in perhaps pursuing their dreams and help them learn how to reach out,” says Marshal.

Faison’s advice to any aspiring, young actor is simple. 

“Believing in yourself is important, but above all, know that you had a purpose before anyone had an opinion,” says Faison.

Christopher Faison has come a long way from the small town of Norwich, to the big stage of Broadway.