Sutton Foster, a Broadway and television actress and Tony Award winner, will come to Muncie in the spring to co-direct Ball State's production of "Shrek the Musical." Foster received an honorary doctorate degree from Ball State in 2012 and gave the spring commencement address. Wikipedia.org // Photo Courtesy
Students, staff look forward to actress Sutton Foster's visit
Broadway and television actress Sutton Foster will be in Muncie between late January and late March, said Bill Jenkins, chairperson of the Department of Theatre and Dance.
Foster will co-direct Ball State’s production of “Shrek The Musical," and Jenkins will direct when Foster is not in town.
“She’s a great friend of the department and a great human being,” Jenkins said. “She’s a great asset to the students and the program. I’m very excited to work with her.”
What: “Shrek The Musical”
Where: University Theatre
When: 7:30 p.m. March 31, April 1, 2, 4-8
2:30 p.m. April 2, 8
Foster generally directs shows she’s been in on Broadway. She originated the role of Fiona in “Shrek” when it made its debut in 2008.
In 2012, Foster co-directed “The Drowsy Chaperone,” in which she played Janet van de Graaf. Jenkins worked with her for that show as well.
Jenkins set up Foster’s visit about a year ago. He said Foster told him she’s “very excited” to come back and work on the production.
“We asked her after if she would be interested in coming back to direct another show and she said yes,” Jenkins said. “When the possibility of doing ‘Shrek’ came up, we asked again and we’ve been able to work with her schedule.”
Foster will direct during the middle of the process, helping students with character development. She will also be in Muncie for dress rehearsals.
Amanda Walker, a sophomore theater major, was cast as Fiona in Ball State’s production. She said the opportunity to learn from the original Broadway actress is exciting.
“It’s a little intimidating, but more exciting than anything,” Walker said. “It’ll be a great learning experience.”
Walker said she’s been obsessed with “Shrek” for forever, and has been re-familiarizing herself with the show.
“I’ve been watching videos of quick changes and interviews with the crew and Sutton,” she said. “She just had so much fun with the character.”
Reagan Pender, a junior musical theater major, will play Shrek. Pender watched the taped version of the Broadway production on Netflix before auditioning in mid-November.
“I’m over the moon to be able to work with someone as amazing and professional as her,” Pender said. “I’m so honored and very excited. It’s a dream come true.”
Tony Weatherington, a junior musical theater major, is playing Donkey in the show and is a long-time "Shrek" fan.
"I was very familiar with the show before auditioning," he said. "One, because I grew up watching 'Shrek' and fell in love with all of the characters and their spunky personalities. Of course, the staged musical has some minor differences but the relationships between the characters are the same, which is the most important part.
Weatherington said he is "beyond excited" to be working with Foster.
"We’re extremely grateful to have the opportunity to work so closely with her," he said. "Not only is it exciting to work with an amazingly talented Broadway and TV actress, but she was also apart of the creative process in developing the show. It will be so nice to get insight on what the creators and original cast had in mind while developing the show."
Foster has been teaching master classes and hosting workshops at Ball State since 2006. She has an honorary doctorate degree from Ball State and gave the spring commencement address in 2012.
“Any time we have her back it’s great to rely on her expertise and experience,” Jenkins said. “We’re thrilled to have her.”