His mother wanted him to be a dancer. His father saw his son following in his own footsteps and becoming a doctor.
But today, Frank X is one of the finest actors working in the theater today. He’s the winner of the Barrymore Award for Best Actor for his performance in “Lonely Planet,” as well as several Barrymore Award nominations for his work at the Lantern Theater.
“My mother’s parents were strict Baptists and would not let her dance,” Frank X recounts. “But as the years went by I think she was determined that at least one of her children would dance. And I was the one.”
Frank X started dancing when he was about 6 or 7, and says he’s always been grateful for the experience.
“It made my mother happy and became something we could share. And personally, I also enjoyed it very much,” he says.
However, later he began giving into his father’s wishes and enrolled in Johns Hopkins University on his way to a medical degree.
“But as I grew older I began to think more clearly for myself for the first time. So I left Johns Hopkins, moved to New York and enrolled in the dramatic writing program at NYU,” Frank X says.
He says he enjoyed the program very much, but his professors began pushing him toward acting.
“Maybe they just didn’t like the way I wrote but didn’t want to tell me,” Frank X laughs. “The truth is, I always did enjoy acting. I just didn’t think it was a viable career move for me.”
But when this Philadelphia native moved back to his hometown, he soon found out it was — after a little time. “When I moved back here I only had one problem. I knew how to audition but I didn’t know how to have a script accepted. So my plan was to act for a few years, learn what I needed to know, and then to segue into writing. But I never did segue.”
And that’s because his acting skills were widely recognized and he became a hit.
“Someone once defined success as the graceful execution of Plan B. And I absolutely agree,” he says.
Over years in the business, Frank X has appeared in numerous theaters as well as in film and on TV.
Now, he’s appearing as Dogsborough in the Lantern Theater Company’s production of Bertoit Brecht’s “The Resistible Rise of Arturo UI,” which continues through Oct. 13.
According to Frank X, “Hitler’s rise to power caused Brecht to leave Germany and seek exile elsewhere, eventually landing in the United States in 1941. Brecht wrote this play as a satire of Hitler’s rise, but instead of Germany he set it in a world of Chicago gangsters in the 1920s.”
And now, after more than 30 years on stage, Frank X says he has happily found his niche, “Just being in a great play and being part of something bigger than yourself doesn’t happen every day. But when it does it’s marvelous. There are times I stand backstage, waiting to go on, and tell myself how very lucky I am.
“I did and do have my bucket list,” he concludes. “But I don’t acknowledge it anymore. I like not knowing what’s coming next. I like to be surprised.”