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Alumni News

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Scarlett Walker

Scarlett WalkerScarlett Walker graduated in spring 2016 with a bachelor of arts in musical theatre, and has joined the Broadway revival cast of Rodger and Hammerstein’s Carousel.  We caught up with her to  chat about life in the Big Apple post-grad, and what it’s like to be headed to Broadway.

What have you been up to since you graduated?

Since I moved to the city in August of 2016, I have been auditioning, taking voice lessons, dance classes, and auditioning some more. In the spring, I worked at Riverside Theatre in Vero Beach, Florida, doing the show Mame. This past June I was fortunate enough to return to The Muny in St. Louis, MO, to perform in The Little Mermaid as Atina. In the spring, I also had the great opportunity to sign with Bloc Talent Agency.

How did UA prepare you for such things?

UA really provided me with a safe but challenging environment to nurture and grow my talents. I feel my teachers were always very honest with me, sometimes brutally, and it truly helped me to understand the realities and requirements of this business. Their honesty also helped me to push myself to be the best I could be and realize that my best can always be better.

What was the Carousel audition process like?

I got an appointment through my agent to come in and sing first, with a possibility of being kept to dance. I typically lead with dance in auditions, so this was a little different for me and I knew going into this they were looking for strong singers who also danced. I was asked to bring my own cut in and prepare two songs from the show. After singing, I was kept to dance. The combo was a beautiful lyrical ballet by the show’s choreographer, Justin Peck of the New York City Ballet. I received a callback to come in the next morning. The next day I danced, sang, worked through a scene, and was released at about noon. Around 2 hours later I was standing in the subway about to get on the 3 train and I saw I had a missed call and voicemail from my agent. My heart started pounding. I called her back, and she said “Well, that’s good (you are in the loud subway) because you are probably going to scream because you are making your Broadway debut in Carousel! I let out a cry, started sobbing, and almost fell over. In true actor fashion, it was so dramatic.

What are you most excited about? What scares you most?

I am so excited to work with this cast. It is actually insane. There are Tony Award winners and nominees, professional ballet dancers, a world renowned choreographer, and an international opera star all in one show. I cannot wait to watch and learn from all of these amazing artists. I think there is always the fear that I am not really good enough. As artists, we constantly doubt our abilities and often feel inadequate, but we have to keep reminding ourselves that we have nothing to prove, and everything to share. In regards to this show, I just keep reminding myself, “They cast you exactly as you are. They want YOU.”

What advice can you offer current students?

There is the saying, “A little hard work goes a long way.” That is wrong. A lot of a hard work goes a long way. Spend those extra hours in the studio. Wake up at the crack of dawn to put a full face of makeup on for your 9 am audition. Expel mediocrity from your life. Constantly pursue excellence. Exhaust yourself. The rewards of your hard work and dedication will be that much sweeter. Some of the best advice I have received came from Acting Professor Seth Panitch. “Love the work.” If you walk through life with that motto, you cannot go wrong. Also, do not ever let your fear overcome your passion. Walking into that audition room can be terrifying. This entire business is terrifying. You have to want it so much that you are willing to face the fear and rejection with bravery and determination. 95% of the battle is walking into the audition room. Just do it. Trust me. It is worth it.

Anything else you would like to add? A favorite anecdote or other UA memory?

42nd Street will always have a special place in my heart. I truly adored that show. I could perform that opening number every night and never be tired of it. Thank you, [Professor] Stacy Alley, for trusting me with Anytime Annie. Fun fact: I stopped dancing and singing after I graduated high school. I spent my freshman year as a broadcast journalism major with a minor in political science. In all seriousness, thank you to Raphe, Stacy, Seth, and all of my wonderful professors for taking a chance on a very lost 19-year-old girl. Your faith in me helped to restore my faith in myself.

Lynne Hutton

Lynne HuttonTechnical theatre alumna Lynne Hutton graduated in 1982. She returned to the Capstone recently to fill two roles for UA Theatre and Dance: set designer for the first production of the spring, Vinegar Tom; and instructor for the graduate-level Theatre History course.

After graduation, Hutton went directly into graduate school at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, where she received her M.F.A in Theatre Design. This led to jobs at 13th Street Theatre and Radio City Music Hall in New York City, and at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta. Her career also took her into teaching at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, as well as The Dalton School in NYC. She taught both design and theatre history, both of which would come to serve her well following her move back to Birmingham. As she describes it, the universe “just worked out” to bring her home to doing what she loves, and at her alma mater to boot.

While a student at UA, some of Hutton’s most important lessons were appreciation for the arts, time management, and the development and achievement of goals. She also highlighted the crucial approach taught by late Professor John Ross. As a designer, he focused on teaching students how to truly see and hear the world around them; looking for the history and layers contained within a setting to understand what is going on in any given place and time. Per his teachings and through her own experience, Hutton especially enjoys the research process. Evaluating the environment, drawing inspiration from visual artists (such as Christian Haas), and answering questions like “why are these characters here right now?” and “how do these pieces all fit together?” help Hutton formulate her designs.

When developing the layout of Vinegar Tom, she came to the ideas of ropes and vines twisting together and hanging from the ceiling in a cold, industrial environment to reflect the eerie nature of Caryl Churchill’s play. In collaboration with Director Annie Levy, the set took on the look of a former rope factory as the script balances a 17th-century village and the present day.