Some parents make their kids listen to The Grateful Dead or George Strait on the way to school every morning. Lynn McCutchen, a senior theatre major, grew up listening to Andrew Lloyd Webber. Now, she spends most of her free time inside the theater, and is currently directing, designing and starring in a play that debuts this weekend.
“My first exposure to theatre was my Gran taking me to the Fabulous Fox Theatre in St. Louis to see Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella,” McCutchen said. “I was only four years old at the time, but I remember it vividly. I was dazzled by the beautiful costumes and the classic score.”
McCutchen didn’t actually start performing until high school.
“I started out as a stagehand because I was terrified to audition,” she said. “But eventually I mustered the courage to audition my junior year, and landed my first big role as a conniving witch. That role gave me the confidence to continue as an actor, and by the end of high school I felt I had found my passion for performance,” McCutchen said.
Once she got to college, the competition for roles and complexity of material rose significantly. However, this hasn’t stopped her desire to continue with a theatre career after she graduates.
“The first few years here at Jewell were extremely challenging, and I definitely wasn’t landing the roles that I used to while in high school, but I was determined to keep learning and challenging myself,” McCutchen said. “I would love to stay in the Kansas City area for a while after college to explore theatre opportunities here. The Kansas City theatre scene is truly booming right now, and I would love to be a part of such a growing and expanding environment. Somewhere down the line I would like to take my work to NYC, but I feel I still have much to learn and experience before then.”
For McCutchen, theatre reaches far past schooling and her future career plans.
“I find myself using the knowledge and training I have gained in anything from giving presentations to everyday conversations about specific plays and playwrights,” she said. “Honestly if anyone has a conversation with me for long enough, theatre will always be mentioned at some point.”
She was motivated to choose her current work, the 1930’s play “Private Lives” by Noel Coward, not only by her love for the style of Coward’s writing, but for the role gender plays in the narrative.
“The two main roles, Elyot and Amanda, are actually shown more as equals rather than the man typically being in a higher position,” McCutchen said. “Typically there is more male power in the performance or the role on the stage. Women typically talk less and are seen less.”
McCutchen’s extensive involvement in the play’s execution, which reached from giving blocking to her cast members, to being on stage for most of the play, to picking lighting designs, was a growing artistic experience for her in many ways.
“Having to go from being a director to jumping into acting mode has been a challenge, but it’s also been a lot of fun,” McCutchen said. “I have really enjoyed the teamwork effort for everyone to help me with this huge project.”
You can see “Private Lives” at William Jewell College’s theater on Feb. 10 and 11 at 7 pm.