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Kerry Frances is singing a new song “For Christmas”, the title of her first holiday single.
Known for her roles as Sally in Rian Johnson’s “Knives Out” and as Shprintze, Tevye’s fourth daughter in Topol’s last national tour of “Fiddler On The Roof”, Frances has lived and performed throughout the country, but she’s happy to be home in Milltown for the holidays.
“Every time I leave, I always end up coming back,” said Frances, a graduate of Bishop Ahr High School in Edison, now known as St. Thomas Aquinas. “I am a lifelong, born-and-bred Jersey girl.”
Frances considers Milltown her home base. It’s where she feels happiest and even most creative. It’s there she headed, with her dog Henry Bear, when the pandemic hit. And it’s where she wrote and recorded “For Christmas”, available on all music streaming and social media platforms.
“I did that in my childhood closet. I turned it into a studio,” said Frances with a laugh. “It’s really a full-circle moment. As a child, I used to sit in that closet and write songs.”
Instead of focusing on what she could not do in a pandemic, Frances found herself focusing on what she could do.
“It allowed me to have a whole new approach,” she said. “‘Knives Out’ came out in November 2019. I was living my dream in Los Angeles, going to premieres and events. Seeing myself on gigantic screens in iconic theatres. It was the most magical experience of my life. And that went directly into early March. I had meetings scheduled and there was renewed interest in me. Then the door slammed.”
Frances had the perquisite “pity party” for herself, came home and “used this as a time to develop other relationships.” While people in the industry also had extra time, her emails and Zoom calls started bringing in “Yeses.” She focused more on music, participated on podcasts and got her first producer credit on “Dominoes,” a feature.
“I realized I didn’t have to sit and wait,” she said. “Success is not location-based. That was a game-changer for me. The playing field felt even. I realized everyone was at home and everyone was struggling and had a lot standing in their way. But that became very freeing for me.”
Singing before she could speak, Frances also was writing songs before she could write; her mom would write out the words for her.
“I’ve been writing songs forever, but never did anything with them,” she said. “I would sing on other people’s tracks, but not my own. In September, I reached out to a music producer, John Marlin, about doing a holiday song. I worked on the song — wrote it really quickly — lyrics, melody, sang it and did the harmonies. And we recorded it.”
“For Christmas” has a positive message, but also reflects the time we are in now in society, Francis said. It focuses on a message of love, peace and kindness — “For Christmas.”
Frances first took up acting as a child, heading to New York to pursue musical theatre as soon as she had the chance.
“I booked the Broadway national tour of ‘Fiddler’ on an open call right out of school,” said Frances, who attended Wagner College in Staten Island.
On the national tour, Frances, then billed as Kerry Alexander, played the daughter to three of the world’s best living Tevyes — Topol, Theo Bikel and Harvey Fierstein — and she was featured in the 50th Anniversary of “Fiddler On The Roof” performance in New York.
Frances also worked opposite Sally Struthers in “Hello Dolly!”; originated the lead in “Delirium’s Daughters”, an off-Broadway play from workshop to full run; and can be seen and heard in various commercials and voiceovers, including MTV, Geico, Entenmann’s, Prudential and Mattel. She also has done numerous print ads and recordings, namely with songwriter and producer Sam Hollander.
There was a short break while Frances battled Lyme disease about five years ago. She came home again to the Garden State to recover and regroup.
Her next project, Peacock’s “Poker Face”, will reunite her with Johnson, who created and is set to write and direct the series. Early next year, Frances also can be found participating in the “The OPC,” a narrative podcast.
“What’s next? In the ideal world it’s more TV, more movies and more music,” she said. “And having that balanced life — here, Los Angeles, travel for work. I think there is something about having this home base that feels like a good trampoline, a good place to bounce off of and come back to.”
To follow Frances go www.kerryfrances.com/ or @kerryingon on Twitter and @kerryfrancesofficial on Instrgam.
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