Laura Suddath

Laura Sudduth ’08 is making her Broadway debut in a revival of “Les Liaisons Dangereuses.”

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Pacific alumna to make her Broadway debut

Laura Sudduth ’08 joins growing list of Conservatory grads succeeding on the big stage
Oct 28, 2016

When the curtain goes up Oct. 30 at the Booth Theatre in New York City for the revival of "Les Liaisons Dangereuses," the stage lights will shine on an actress who honed her skills 2,900 miles away at Pacific's Conservatory of Music.

Laura Sudduth '08 will set aside opening-night jitters and step onto the Broadway stage as "Julie" in the play based on Pierre Ambroise François Choderlos de Laclos' novel of sex, intrigue and betrayal in pre-revolutionary France. Janet McTeer, Liev Schrieber, Mary Beth Peil and other veteran stage and screen actors make up the cast.

"I'm beyond excited," Sudduth, a voice major when at the conservatory, said of her upcoming Broadway debut. "It was, of course, something I had always hoped for, but never expected would happen."

Advice to conservatory students

  "Take advantage of every opportunity for artistic growth. If you don't have enough opportunities, create your own. Know that being a well-rounded performer and person is key to finding success. This is a period of intense personal growth, so be patient with yourself, and welcome healthy criticism." - Laura Sudduth '08

"Say 'yes' to every opportunity. The more foreign, puzzling or challenging the experience the more you will stretch and grow to meet the challenge. Close your mouth and open your ears.  Interact constantly with non-artists, so you remember that art is a response to life, not life itself." - Matt Castle '93

"Utilize all of the resources that the conservatory and the university as a whole provides. College is meant to help us specialize and focus on what we want to do in life, but there are so many facets of the music industry that doing so can actually be detrimental. ... Especially when you're starting out, you need to be able to do anything that comes your way. ... The skills for these jobs are learned in class and by working with other people in ensembles and chamber music settings - not being exclusively in the practice room by yourself. But when luck grants you your big performing break, as it did with me, you better be able to deliver, so don't quit practicing your scales and arpeggios either." - Paul Staroba '05 

Sudduth is the latest in a growing line of Pacific graduates to find her way to the big stage. Matt Castle '93, Paul Staroba '05, Chris Kong '07 and Sean Forte '10 are all Conservatory alumni making a go of it on Broadway and in musical productions across the country. Yelena Dyachek '13 won a top spot in the 2016 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in New York City, a competition that also yielded first-place district victories for Hannah Ludwig '14, Andrew Dwan '13 and Ted Pickell '14.

"I'm so proud of my fellow alumni and delighted that I've had the chance to meet many of them in the professional world," said Sudduth. "What makes the conservatory so special is that it cultivates complete artists - creative, collaborative and well-rounded. When I work on any play or musical, I draw directly from the lessons I learned at Pacific."

The opportunity to perform lead roles while at Pacific, something she said undergraduates rarely have a chance to do at larger institutions, helped her develop as a performer.

"The success of our alumni really does reflect the dedication of our faculty and the opportunity our students have while they're here," said Daniel Ebbers, interim dean of the conservatory. "We are proud that we can help those students to succeed once they leave Pacific."

Castle, whose work as a musical director and arranger/orchestrator has resulted in a long list of theater productions, said the individual attention of Pacific's conservatory faculty, made possible by small class sizes, is a great benefit to conservatory students.

"I admire Pacific's unique structure, which offers conservatory students an intense musical education in the context of a rich liberal arts general education in the company of students from other professional schools," Castle said. "The diversity of the student body, combined with the depth of the faculty's expertise and the wealth of opportunities through the Student Life division, equipped me to live responsibly and ethically in our busy, diverse world."

Staroba said the Conservatory's strong classroom component along with private lessons and instrumental instruction were a great help to him.

"I tell everyone that I really didn't know anything about music before attending Pacific," Staroba said. "I could play the piano well - albeit with somewhat suspect technique - but that's where it ended."

Being selected by Professor James Haffner to be the music director for "Heart's Desire" during his final year at Pacific had a direct impact on Staroba's professional career and his success on Broadway. He moved to New York City shortly after graduating from Pacific and a little over a year later was named associate music director for a new Broadway show, "Grey Gardens," in part because of his work on "Heart's Desire."

"I didn't really know it at the time, but everything I did on 'Heart's Desire' was exactly what I would be doing in New York and continue to do presently," Staroba said. "It was the single most important event of my college career in terms of actually preparing me practically for what I do now, because it is what I do now."

Staroba has kept busy on Broadway since moving to New York. Most recently, he made his Broadway debut as a music director for "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder," which won the Tony Award for Best Musical in 2014 and ran for 935 performances over nearly two and a half years before closing in January.

Throughout November and December he'll be part of the orchestra for the Radio City Christmas Spectacular with The Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall. And in January he begins rehearsals for another Broadway play, "War Paint," starring Patti Lupone and Christine Ebersole.