This past week Sutton Foster came to BYU and performed on campus with two sold-out performances. Although her performances ended with standing ovations and long lines awaiting her autograph, she did more than just share her talent with BYU. Foster shared her insights to the Broadway world with BYU’s Music Dance Theatre students on Friday, Sept. 5, in a master class.
Foster talked about the choices one must make when living in such a fast-paced industry and expanded the minds of the students with her experience and counsel.
“It was impressive to see how grounded she was as a person, very natural and real,” said Brian Carey, a senior in the MDT program. “She taught that kindness and respect is what makes a good career for you in the musical theatre environment or any other career you choose, regardless of the talent you possess.”
Sutton Foster helped students realize that although the Broadway business is challenging, it’s worth it to always act kind and professional.
Gayle Lockwood, department chair of BYU’s Music Dance Theatre Division, was grateful for Foster’s influence on the students.
“She encouraged students to find themselves in the characters that they portray to bring authenticity to their work,” Lockwood said. “The sentence that stood out to me was her answer to how she had gotten to where she was. She explained that kindness, respect and a willingness to learn are things that will help build the students’ character.”
Different students performed for the Broadway star so they could receive constructive criticism from her.
“A big thing that I learned from Sutton Foster is that she would tell students to relate the song they were singing to their personal lives,” said Heather McDonald, a music dance theatre student. “She taught that getting rid of the specifics of ‘the musical’ and getting down to the base human emotion that everyone can relate to is what moves audiences.”
Foster has received two Tony Awards for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical (“Thoroughly Modern Millie” and “Anything Goes”) and recently played the title role in “Violet” on Broadway. She has also stared in television programs and films.
Foster impressed many with her performance in the packed DeJong concert hall but also left a mark on the music dance theatre students in helping many of them realize that their dreams of performing on the Broadway stage are possible.