BWW Q&A: James Hunnicutt on Cockpit In Court Summer Theatre

We talk about James Hunnicutt about Jerry's Girls and Newsies at Cockpit In Court Summer Theatre

By: Jun. 12, 2024
BWW Q&A: James Hunnicutt on Cockpit In Court Summer Theatre
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James is a graduate from Towson University with a degree in Theatre. He has performed at TU, MD Arts Festival, Cockpit in Court, Fell’s Point Corner Theatre, Vagabonds, Phoenix Festival, and F. Scott Black's Dinner Theatres, to mention a few. He has also choreographed and directed shows all over Baltimore. By day he works at Towson University as the Operations Manager, at the TU building in Harford County, referred to as TUNE (but sadly doesn’t offer any arts programs).

What inspired your passion for theatre and how did you start your journey in the industry?

I went to my high school production of Hello Dolly because a friend of mine was playing Dolly. I was so in awe and said I want to do that. It was one of the first shows I had ever seen. I then went to college and the first friend I made was a Theatre Major, and started hanging around and trying to get involved in anyway I could.

Can you tell us about some of your favorite shows that you've directed or choreographed in Baltimore?

Shows that stand out in my mind as a director/choreographer are all based on the total experience of the cast melding and becoming like an extended family. This happened with The Full Monty, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Many of the cast members from these show are still close friend today.

How does your role as Operations Manager at Towson University intersect with your career in theatre?

Oddly in my position at Towson University, it has nothing to due with the artistic aspect of theatre. But it does deal a lot with manage events and coordinating the behind the scenes work. This is helpful because sometimes I make new contacts or see different ways to make events successful.

Can you provide some insights into the upcoming shows, Newsies & Jerry's Girls, and what audiences can expect from them?

We are excited to present Jerry's Girls because it features six women singing a wide range of Jerry Herman's hits. It is harder to pull off some of the classics today when trying to build a younger audience, but this show gives everyone a taste of the shows with some of Broadway's biggest songs. Newsies, also is a exciting choice for our actors. We chose this because many of the young performers we have worked with, think this show is especially fun to be involved in and represents the age group that are in. Also a lot of fun music and dancing.

What is the selection process like for the actors in Newsies, given it is performed by actors aged 18 and under?

We have open auditions for ages 4-18. We treat them like the adult auditions. They need to come in prepared with music, dressed to dance and give them readings (or make them tell a story if they are too young to read). We can normally cast up to 30 due to the size of the theatre. We make sure they can commit to the rehearsal schedule and have to take conflicts into consideration since it is the summer - some people don't realize the commitment by the performer is also a commitment by the parents.

Could you share some details about the Jerry Herman review? What can audiences look forward to in terms of songs and performances?

The musical review should fit well in our Cabaret setting. Our space is set up in the round and with the piano on the stage. Our six "leading ladies" will sing stand-out songs from Hello Dolly, Mack and Mabel, Mame, Parade, La Cage and a few other shows. It is more of a celebration of Herman's music with song after song.

With your extensive background in theatre, what advice would you give to budding theatre professionals?

See as much as you can to try and understand the complexity and simplicity of acting. Also, try to experience all aspects of theatre, from sound, to lighting, to set and crew, front of house... Anything to get the full picture of what it takes to make a theatre successful and to better round you out as a performer. Also, don't be afraid to take chances. We always tell the kids in our rehearsals "you can't say you can't, you say I will try", because theatre is live and we create better by making choices that work the best.


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