Hours before the grand opening of the Sarah Belk Gambrell Center for the Arts and Civic Engagement on February 20, Sutton Foster spent time with students, staff and faculty for a moderated question and answer session. Justin Smith, assistant professor and director of choral activities, led the discussion with the two-time Tony Award winner and star of the TV Land series Younger. Casually dressed in a sweater and jeans, Foster laughed, cried and captured

the crowd with her tales of rejection, overcoming insecurities and being a triple threat (singer, dancer and actress). The crowd was filled with music students concentrating in voice, so Foster gave them some industry tips such as, sing down an octave when rehearsing, keep a book of songs from every genre so that you are always prepared for an audition and most important, always remain a student. Foster continues to take voice lessons to this day. “This is one of the nice parts about having a music department that partners

with Arts at Queens,” said Smith. “We can bring in this caliber of performer and give students access.” When questions were open to the audience, students didn’t shy away from

asking about Foster’s favorite scenes from her television series, as well as what’s next for her. She simply answered that she didn’t know what was in store for her next in life, but she wants to be happy. One thing she does know is that she’ll be performing opposite Hugh Jackman this fall as Marian Paroo in the Broadway revival of The Music Man. Foster admitted that she still gets a case of the butterflies before she hits the

stage, but she also shared the mantra she uses to whisk them away: “I’m 44 years old. I’ve worked my entire life to be here. I’m allowed to be good,” said Foster. Good she was when she performed later in the evening for a sold-out crowd

at the Sandra Levine Theatre. Foster’s stellar performance included classics such as The Nearness of You, C’est Magnifique and If they Could See Me Now. —Tyler Greene ’17

What the Gambrell Center means for the future is clear and compelling. When students return to campus, this facility will be a beacon for healing and sharing through art. “Te commitment that Gambrell represents gives Queens’ creative and dedicated faculty the resources, the facilities and the platform to launch much more robust programming for students, the university and the community,” said Mary Edith Alexander, art collection manager for Bank of America. Alexander is one of many Charlotte cultural and arts leaders in close touch with Queens about possibilities at the Gambrell Center ranging from a sensory-friendly Charlotte Symphony Orchestra concert for special needs


populations to meetings of professional arts associations. Other possibilities include performance space partnerships with professional resident theater groups, musicians’ guild awards ceremonies and exhibitions of work coming out of Charlotte’s burgeoning visual arts scene. “At a school where fully one-third of students are first- generation college students, Queens’ commitment to inclusive access for all socioeconomic groups will grow off campus as well, right alongside that new name,” said Sara Henley, the Gambrell Center’s director. “Our hope is that the Gambrell Center will become a front porch of the university.” 

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