Topics: College of Fine Arts, Immersive Learning

January 13, 2010

Sutton Foster
Arguably the most beautiful ogre is traveling from the swamps of New York to Ball State University to work with theater students and engage her fans.

Sutton Foster, Tony Award-winning Broadway star, will visit campus Jan. 26-30. Foster, who is currently playing Princess Fiona in "Shrek: The Musical," will deliver a free, public lecture 7:30 p.m. Jan. 30 in Sursa Performance Hall. During her stay, she'll also be teaching master classes and interacting with students in the Department of Theatre and Dance.

A group of students from the Virginia B. Ball Center for Creative Inquiry is looking forward to working with Foster as well. They are writing and performing a new musical as part of an immersive learning project being coordinated by Beth Turcotte, associate professor of theater.

"In the world of musical theater, Sutton Foster is the pre-eminent performer of this generation," said Bill Jenkins, chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance. "This will be the first time in eight years that she will not be playing a lead role on Broadway, and this is her first-ever extended master teaching commitment. So we are absolutely ecstatic to have her at Ball State for an extended visit."

Foster's attraction to Ball State stems in part from the theater department's New York showcase. The annual spring event, now in its ninth year, involves taking approximately 10 students to the Big Apple to audition before an audience of actors, producers and agents.

During the last four years, Foster has participated in the showcase and taught master classes to Ball State students involved in the program. It's no surprise that her class is a highlight for the students, Jenkins said.

"For our juniors, Sutton's master class was kind of like a rite of passage, a stage door to walk through before their final year at Ball State," he said. "Conversely, it has also been quite enjoyable for her as well. In fact, Sutton was the one who said that she would love to visit our campus and work with our incredibly talented students one day. So I'm glad that 'one day' has finally come."

Foster won the 2002 Tony for her breakthrough role as Millie Dillmount in "Thoroughly Modern Millie." Since then, she also starred as Jo March in "Little Women: The Musical," Inga in "The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein" and Jan Van De Griff in "The Drowsy Chaperone."

Additional Broadway credits include appearances in "Les Miserables," "Annie," "Grease!" and "The Scarlet Letter."