Colorado Springs Conservatory
SPOTLIGHT SERIES · June 2021
Josh Franklin | 1999 Conservatory Alumnus. Broadway Star in Tony Award-winning Anything Goes, Jersey Boys, Ghost, Grease, and Legally Blonde. Accomplished singer-songwriter. Co-owner of ICONS in Colorado Springs.
In its 26-year history, the Colorado Springs Conservatory has served as a “home away from home” to countless talented young people. It continues to be a home where students can be themselves without fear of judgment, a home that provides trusted adult guidance and experiences that build character and discipline, and a home with “siblings” and mentors who share their passions and pursuits.
Many alumni have graduated from their home at Colorado Springs Conservatory and embarked upon careers that include medicine, engineering, law, history, literature, and education. Additionally, we celebrate the numerous Conservatory graduates who have gone on to professional art careers, which include national touring companies, Broadway, New York City Opera, international opera houses, and arts organizations.
This month we’re proud to shine our spotlight on one of Colorado Springs Conservatory’s accomplished alumni turned Broadway star and local entrepreneur, Josh Franklin. Josh recently took some time to share some memories of his time as a student at Colorado Springs Conservatory, his journey to Broadway, and his vision and hopes for the future of Colorado Springs.
Josh, we know our current students, parents and donors would love to hear about your journey with Colorado Springs Conservatory and in your star-studded professional life!
How old were you when you began attending Colorado Springs Conservatory, and what was your motivation to attend?
At the time, there was no Conservatory. There was only Linda Weise, a very pregnant voice teacher teaching out of her home in Black Forest. I was 14 and I’m not sure Linda or I realized, at the time, just how impactful those lessons would become. One lesson turned into a summer program with about 15 of us, which later became The Colorado Springs Conservatory – full of hundreds of budding musical geniuses!
Where did you attend high school, and were you active in music and/or theater in your high school? Or mostly through Conservatory?
I went to Doherty High School and was very active in band, choir and theater. The training at the Conservatory, admittedly, was on another level, with much more focused and personal attention.
What are your favorite memories of your time at Conservatory?
Too many to count, but a couple that come to mind would be cheering each other on in studio class and singing for the retired folks down the street from the old location. They always seemed to have a different appreciation than any other audience, and we could feel how our music would brighten their day.
Tell us a little about your journey from Colorado Springs to New York City and Broadway!
With excellent preparation from the Colorado Springs Conservatory, I went to Webster Conservatory for the Theater Arts and earned a BFA in musical theater. From there, I briefly worked on a cruise ship and immediately moved to NYC, spent all of my savings in three months, and immediately returned to the ship. Afterward, I landed a few national touring shows, and then came my big Broadway debut in the Grease revival back in 2006. Several years and shows later, here I am, and my feet are killing me.
What are some of your favorite memories of being on Broadway?
Working with Sutton Foster, Joel Grey, Jessica Walter, many American Idols and many personal idols. The bond you create with a cast is like nothing else in the world. You’re family. And what wonderful families I’ve been a part of.
You’re back in Colorado Springs! How has the city changed since you were younger, and what is your “vision” for the Springs?
My memory of Colorado Springs is torn. On one hand, I was able to have a rich artistic upbringing (mainly because I insisted on it), but on the other, it felt like a pretty unwelcoming city for those who were different. The change is palpable especially in certain areas of the city, though we still have a ways to go. My vision is a slightly more culturally-stimulating society then the one we’ve settled for. A society that embraces people of color, queer people, the arts and all things that beg us to reexamine our stagnant ways and surround ourselves with those who force us to think outside of our comfortable boxes.
You are the co-owner of Icons in downtown Colorado Springs. Please tell us about Icons – what does it offer, why is it an important fixture in the city?
Icons is the first gay piano bar in the city’s history and currently the only LGBTQ+ bar in downtown Colorado Springs. We are making waves by not only unapologetically embracing a community that has a sordid past with this city, but also providing the highest level of talent you’re likely to find in the state. All of our bartenders are professional singers and sing every single night. It is the epitome of fun!
What was your motivation to become an entrepreneur/small business owner in the Springs?
Two fold. I wanted something that would allow me to stay in Colorado full time, however the main motivation was simply filling a void that was long overdue in our community.
What are your favorite things to do/places to visit in and around Colorado Springs?
The hiking in Cheyenne Canyon, breakfast at the Exchange, walks around our neighborhood (west side) with our pups, the Bear Creek Dog Park, Icons (of course), our sister bar Shame & Regret…I could go on and on.
What else is “in the works” for Josh Franklin?
A show that I’ve written, The Consoling Mechanism, has had a busy year as it was selected for the National Alliance of Musical Theater festival in NYC and for Theater Accelerator with Apples and Oranges. Needless to say, I have my hands full these days with projects, but I believe this show will have a Broadway run at some point in the future, which is another dream of mine.