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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Student actor ‘catalyst for change’

    Sally Lugo

    Musical theatre sophomore Josh Dunn poses for a photo in the Marroney Theatre on Tuesday evening. Dunn will play the lead role of Henrik Egerman in “A Little Night Music.”

    Audience members who attend the Arizona Repertory Theatre’s latest show, “A Little Night Music,” will encounter actor Josh Dunn, whose nuanced performance will make spectators feel like they are secretly discovering “the next big thing.”

    Dunn, a musical theatre sophomore, said he became involved in acting during high school. However, it wasn’t until he was accepted into the musical theatre program at the UA that he became fully invested in it.

    “I don’t think it’s until I was [at the UA] and immersed in it that I really fell in love with [acting],” Dunn said. “I think theater is a special art form that is really about human life. It’s an art form that can bring about change and make people think. … It deepens my human experience.”

    With each role Dunn embodies on stage, not only is his personal, human experience enriched, but his versatility as an actor expands.

    Dunn said he has been a part of many different productions with the theater since his freshman year. For the show “Oklahoma,” Dunn danced in the ensemble. As a sophomore, he took on his first lead role as Ethan in “The Full Monty.” For “This,” Dunn understudied the character of Alan.  Currently, Dunn plays one of the lead roles, Henrik Egerman, in “A Little Night Music.”

    David Morden, assistant professor of voice and movement for the UA School of Theatre, Film and Television, said he has had the privilege of watching Dunn grow and excel as an acting student.

    “I got to work with him his first semester of his freshman year and really see who he was as an actor,” Morden said. “What’s great is that the initial feedback was [Dunn’s acting was] fine; it’s just not really out there and exciting kind of work. It was all sort of mild-mannered. … So, his initial feedback was saying, … ‘You need to put yourself out there. Go to more extremes.’”

    According to Morden, Dunn used the program’s feedback to flourish in his artistic development.

    “He’s totally taken that to heart,” Morden said, “and he’s really started doing that as an actor — opening himself up emotionally [and] opening himself up as far as the intensity of what he’s doing and what he’s experiencing.”

    Dunn’s willingness to evolve and improve as an actor and as a person brings him respect from his professors and peers.

    “Josh is a model student,” Morden said. “He’s focused. He’s eager. He’s enthusiastic. He’s got a great disposition. He always walks into class eager to learn, to explore, to find out what he doesn’t know and figure out how to make it happen.”

    Although Dunn’s focus and work ethic define his personal journey as a student actor, Dunn also emphasized how much he cherishes his fellow performers.

    “Even though we are in a professional training program, we still act as a family, and we’re still there for each other,” Dunn said. “We still root each other on in victories, and if someone gets cast, it’s exciting.”

    Dunn and many of his close friends in the program will take the stage today until May 3 to perform “A Little Night Music,” a musical that portrays an array of complicated love triangles. Dunn said that being able to see the script, actors, music, set and costumes come together to create the overall production has been an exhilarating experience.

    “Sondheim, [the composer,] gives us such rich and full material to work with,” Dunn said. “It’s fun to see us come together to tackle this huge feat of a Sondheim musical and succeed and really be able to tell the story.”

    As with any new role, the character of Henrik Egerman presented its own set of challenges.

    “I had to learn American Stage Speech, which is like a dialect,” Dunn said. “I had to expand my vocal range. … I also had to learn the mechanics of a cello. … Although there is no sound coming out my cello, I had to learn the basics of bowing and fingering.”

    As a person, Dunn emanates a rare authenticity and humility that enhances his acting on stage. It would be wise to keep a lookout for Dunn in the future; his presence in the theater community will likely bring innovation and inspiration to the next generation of actors and audience members.

    “I think, through the career I’ve chosen, I want to grow as a person and help others grow as people to better understand one another,” Dunn said. “I think theater, and dance, and performance art [are] just means of connection. There is not a specific destination that I want to be, but I want to go wherever I can be best utilized and make art that’s a catalyst for change.”


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