The Hippo


May 31, 2020








Caroline Burns performing on The Voice. Courtesy image.

From The Voice to Broadway
Hollis teen on coming home, snagging lead in Brooklyn

By Kelly Sennott

You might know Hollis teen Caroline Burns as a finalist of The Voice this past spring, but the petite 16-year-old recently added another notch to her resume — the role of Brooklyn in the national tour of Brooklyn: The Musical, which she booked this July with Manchester playwright and composer Mark Schoenfeld.

The play, which hit Broadway in 2004 and starred Eden Espinosa, focuses on a group of five homeless musicians who periodically transform a street corner under the Brooklyn Bridge into a stage. For this revival tour, Schoenfeld held unsuccessful New York casting sessions before asking Burns to audition, per the suggestion of her former voice instructor, Carlos Martinez, who lives in the same building as Schoenfeld. It took just one song.
“To me, [Caroline’s] a pop star. … And that’s what the character Brooklyn is — a pop star,” Schoenfeld said. “They made a huge mistake, not making her a pop star on The Voice. … But I love the fact that they made a mistake, because it means I can grab her and put her in the show.”
Shoenfeld said the tour starts in Dallas the summer of 2017 and ends, ideally, in New York on Broadway or off-Broadway. Rehearsals begin this winter.
Weeks after securing the part, Burns talked with the Hippo between performances as Wendy in The Palace Theatre’s Peter Pan while clad in dance tights, a baseball cap and a big grin.
Have people recognized you since your return from The Voice?
Right when I got back, people would come up to me in the grocery store a lot. … In the show I’m in now, I’m dressed as Wendy. [The Palace] does meet-and-greets afterward, so I’m talking to the kids, pretending I’m Wendy, and the parents will be like, “Oh, you were in The Voice, right?”
What did you learn from being on the show?
My coach was Adam Levine, and he definitely taught me to have a lot of confidence. … Because if you’re not confident, then it’s just not going to sound as good, and it’s not going to come out how you want it to. 
Tell me about the Brooklyn audition process.
We just met the guy I auditioned for, Mark, two weeks ago. He gave me a choice of three songs to sing for the audition. I learned “I Never Knew His Name.” I had one night to prepare. … I did one song, and he was like, “Alright, you have the part.” It was crazy. I didn’t believe it at first. I was like, “Do I really have the part?” … I was so excited. It was awesome.
Did you know the musical beforehand?
I’d heard of it, but I’d never seen it. But then I listened to the music, and I knew a couple of the songs. … The one I learned was pretty short, about two minutes long.
What had you been working on before you got the gig? Had you been to any New York open calls? 
I was just trying to write original music. But obviously, if an opportunity like this comes along, I can’t pass it up. I’ve been dreaming about this my whole life. … Those open calls are for like 15 seconds. … I usually mess up in those situations. I need the whole song. So this was a lot better!
Did you grow up doing theater in the area?
When I was really little, I did some [acting] with the Peacock Players and Riverbend [Youth Theatre]. But mostly, I just do the Palace because, I don’t know, I love the people there, and I know them well. … I haven’t done [a musical] in a while here because of The Voice. I was sad because I couldn’t do a show for like a year.
Is it harder to land a big break while living in New Hampshire than in the city?
I think so. There are fewer opportunities here, which is why I was so surprised that Mark lived in Manchester. It just worked out so perfectly. For people who live in L.A., there are so many things happening there. They can go and audition for something every day. But here, it’s not like that at all. So it’s definitely a lot harder.
Is this as exciting as being called back for The Voice?
More exciting?
I don’t know. They’re both exciting! 


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