Lake Norman & Mooresville

Theater couple writes their own love story

Mark Sutch and Emily Hunter are happy to have found each other. “It’s not always easy,” Sutch said of maintaining a relationship while directing or choreographing a theater production. “So it’s nice to be with someone who gets it.”
Mark Sutch and Emily Hunter are happy to have found each other. “It’s not always easy,” Sutch said of maintaining a relationship while directing or choreographing a theater production. “So it’s nice to be with someone who gets it.”

Emily Hunter, 35, a freelance choreographer and theater instructor, and Mark Sutch, 41, an associate professor of theater at Davidson College, are happy to have found each other.

Both are active in theater and performing arts, which gives them a bond – and an understanding when their schedules get full with rehearsals and performances.

“It’s very difficult for theater people to date nontheater people,” Sutch said. “The schedule can ruin relationships.”

Hunter and Sutch met in December 2014 during auditions for Davidson College’s production of “Fiddler on the Roof.” Hunter was hired as the show’s choreographer, and Sutch served as the dialect coach.

Ann Marie Costa, a Davidson theater professor and the show’s director, “told me she had someone she wanted me to meet,” Sutch said.

They waited until the show opened in March to go on their first date. They have been together ever since and now live together in Concord. “We’re both homebodies,” Hunter said.

“It’s a great way to decompress,” Sutch said, “after working with other people all day.”

Sutch and Hunter combine teaching, directing and performing in their professional lives.

In his 10th year as an associate professor of theater at Davidson College, Sutch teaches acting, directing and voice movement classes and directs one show each year for the college. He also maintains a professional profile and does works of various forms outside of the college.

He has directed plays for the Burning Coal Theatre Company in Raleigh and will be acting in the play “Stage Kiss” at the Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte in June. In 2012, he performed and produced a one-man show Underneath the Lintel.

Sutch started acting in high school in Iowa and majored in communications studies (there was no theater major) at Iowa State University. He acted in many productions, but also focused on directing. He directed two shows for the theater department, which was unusual for an undergraduate student.

“I picked directing over acting,” Sutch said, “because I wanted a steady job that paid me to do what I loved doing. Directing is less transient than acting.”

Sutch pursued an MFA in directing at the Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, R.I., graduating in 2000. He was immediately hired by the company to serve on the artistic staff and ran a Shakespeare company that toured throughout the Northeast.

In 2006, Sutch began looking for teaching jobs and landed a visiting position at Davidson College that fall. The position was turned into a full-time, tenure-track professorship in 2008, and Sutch has enjoyed being on the faculty ever since.

Hunter’s path to her theatrical career started with dance. “I began dancing when I was 3 years old,” Hunter said. “And I never stopped.”

She grew up in Fort Mill, S.C., and added musical theater to the mix in high school. “You couldn’t get me away from the stage,” she said.

Hunter majored in dance education at Winthrop University and won several awards for her choreography. “I was raised with a very structured, Broadway-style choreography,” Hunter said. Adding that style to the post-modernistic style she studied and worked with in college allowed her to “create a really interesting style,” she said.

After graduating in 2004, Hunter freelanced as a choreographer and performer but pursued a corporate job in retail management in 2008. By 2014, her work as a choreographer was getting noticed, and she had an epiphany.

“Maybe I can actually do what I love,” Hunter thought.

She now pieces together many freelance theater jobs, such as choreography, serving as the guest artist at Northwest School of the Arts, teaching at Matthews Playhouse and directing three of its musical theater companies for children age 5 to 18. She is also the choreographer for the Art Space at the Community School of Davidson.

“All of a sudden people were calling me,” Hunter said. “It snowballed to where I was having to turn people down.”

Hunter and Sutch have not yet formally collaborated professionally, but there is an ongoing informal collaboration. “We run ideas by each other,” Sutch said.

“I used to use my cat to partner things,” Hunter said.

“I’m better than a cat,” Sutch said.

Both appreciate what the other does and the level of professionalism each brings to their craft. Sutch admires Hunter’s “aesthetic sensibility as a choreographer.” Hunter praised Sutch’s intellect and creativity.

“What he was able to do with “The Birds” (the modern translation of Aristophanes play that Sutch directed at Davidson this fall) was incredible,” Hunter said.

And both Sutch and Hunter appreciate not only each other, but that they are with someone who, as Sutch put it, “shares your joy in what you do.”

“We are both doing what we love,” Hunter said.

Katya Lezin is a freelance writer: bowserwoof@mindspring.com

Learn more:

For information about the 2015-16 season at Davidson College Theatre Department, visit www.davidson.edu/the-arts/theatre. For more information about the musical theater programs and performances at Matthews Playhouse, visit www.matthewsplayhouse.com.

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