Inside USD

MFA Grad Shares Broadway Stage with Major Stars

Friday, May 8, 2009

hutchisonAfter graduating from the University of San Diego Master of Fine Arts in Dramatic Arts program in 2000, actor Brian Hutchison has appeared in numerous productions, including “Proof” on Broadway and the NBC show “Law and Order.” This spring, his career is taking another leap forward as Hutchison shares the stage with stars Susan Sarandon and Geoffrey Rush in the Broadway production of “Exit the King.”

The absurdist comedy by Eugène Ionesco involves an aging ruler, King Berenger, played by Rush, who is dying as his kingdom is crumbling around him. Sarandon plays his first wife, Queen Marguerite, and Lauren Ambrose from HBO’s drama “Six Feet Under” is his second wife, Queen Marie. Hutchison, who plays a guard, is not the only USD graduate in the show. Erika Rolfsrud, a 1996 MFA graduate, is Sarandon’s understudy.

The play, slated to run through mid-June at Broadway’s Ethel Barrymore Theatre, has drawn favorable reviews, including those for Hutchison. On May 5, Rush was nominated for a Tony Award for best actor.

“See it by all means,” said the Wall Street Journal. “This sterling revival is a production of rip-snorting vitality. Geoffrey Rush’s performance is the stuff Tony’s are made of! And the supporting ensemble leaves little to be desired.”

Hutchison “is as antic as possible, considering he has to clank around in full armor,” said the Hour Theater Critic. And the New York Times said “an enthusiastic guard, played by Brian Hutchison, deliver(s) a tribute to king and country in a voice that summons George W. Bush.”

Hutchison said the show has “just been an amazing experience. The whole cast has been so great, so generous throughout the whole process.” He added that Rush “is hilarious onstage and off” and that Sarandon “is remarkable” in how she incorporates her work “as a mother and activist, actress and celebrity.”

USD’s program, a joint venture with The Old Globe, accepts just seven students each year to participate in an intensive two-year, year-round course of graduate study in classical theater.

“I loved the Globe/USD program,” Hutchison said. “The best thing was getting the opportunities to perform and understudy in such a wide range of roles and contemporary plays and classics.”

In coming to New York, “I felt prepared to audition for anything that came my way.”

— Liz Harman

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