Texas State theatre major
takes the classroom off-Broadway
By Mary Kincy
Foster, 21, won a place in the ensemble cast of “Fat Camp” after a New York City audition she rearranged last semester’s finals to attend. She says the ability to participate in the musical without jeopardizing her academic career is part of what makes the musical theatre program at Texas State special.
“At most universities, they don’t have a head of department who is still a professional, working actress and who has been on Broadway and off-Broadway,” Foster says of Kaitlin Hopkins, assistant professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance. “To have Kaitlin is so rare and so special. She knows what we’re going through because she’s been through it.”
Foster will earn credit for her participation in “Fat Camp,” and is taking core classes online to continue her progress toward a bachelor of fine arts degree while she lives and works in New York City this semester.
The road to the Big Apple for Foster started last summer, when she played the lead in two productions of “Hairspray,” one of which was directed by Casey Hushion — the director of “Fat Camp.” After learning of the connection through an actors’ forum, Foster took a risk and e-mailed Hushion to ask whether there might be a role for her in the off-Broadway production.
“That’s not like me to put myself out there,” Foster says, but the gamble paid off. Nearly two months and a few auditions later, she had a part in the ensemble, and will act as understudy for the lead role.
Foster attributes her early success in part to lessons learned at Texas State.
“I’ve learned more about myself than I ever have before,” she says of the rewards of her undergraduate studies. “Every day it’s like a therapy session. We’re learning how to live and how to hone ourselves. I’ve learned to stay true to myself and not to change to make other people comfortable.”
So far, the attitude seems to be working. In addition to her off-Broadway role, Foster auditioned for The Glee Project — a reality competition that aired on Oxygen last summer — barely missing the cut to be featured on the show. Her auditions for the program won her a ticket home to California, where she attended Thousand Oaks High School just a few years ago. At the time, she had no idea what was in store for her future — and had little idea that she would attend Texas State until she heard about the musical theater program from a friend.
“I flew out for one day and I fell in love with it instantly,” she says. “I knew it was where I was meant to be.”