A Student's Perspective

Sutton Foster (left) with Stephanie Johnson '19 (right) at master class.

Which has been your favorite character that Sutton Foster has performed?

I appreciate that many of Ms. Foster’s characters show the depth and nuances women can have, so it’s difficult to choose as her career credits continue to grow. I first fell in love with her performance as Millie Dillmount in Thoroughly Modern Millie and that’s what inspired me to pursue theatre as a career path, but I think I appreciate her creation of Fiona in Shrek more since that was my first lead role.

What do you love about this character?

I appreciate that each character she plays is given permission to be authentically themselves. Even if their story is tied to a male counterpart, Ms. Foster is always able to give her characters a level of autonomy, authenticity, and authority over their paths as women.

In what ways do you look up to Sutton Foster?

It’s amazing to me that she has dominated her craft in this highly competitive field without ascribing to anyone’s expectations of who she should be, and she seems to do that by remaining honest, humble, and committed to herself.

Tell us a bit about the Master Class experience with Sutton Foster…

I appreciated how relaxed the entire environment felt. It’s very rare to build a room environment that feels that at ease when someone of such stature is in the room and when others are performing for them.

What does it mean to you to be able to work with an award-winning actress?

To work with an award-winning actress who inspired me to work to where I am now is an indescribable privilege and a true honor.

How does this shape your career/future?

Well, it definitely checks a bucket list item I didn’t know I had! My freshman year I told myself that I would try to get her on campus before I graduated, so knowing that my “stick-to-it” attitude can cause something to come to fruition gives me some hope it can continue that way.

What was the greatest piece of wisdom Sutton Foster left you with?

I always appreciate the advice mentors give me on my work and performance abilities, but the other 50% of theatre is handling what happens off stage — the anxieties and the other things that often slip through the cracks. I appreciated learning about Ms. Foster’s moments of weakness and difficulty because it reminded me that even the best in the field struggle.

What advice would you share with someone considering studying theatre at Saint Mary’s?

You will always be told how difficult this profession is. At times I hated being a theatre major and I hated doing theatre (because it really is hard), but even in those moments of struggle and frustration, I knew I still needed theatre in my life. I encourage you to push through the moments of pain and difficulty because they can push you to discover where your best path may be.