Tryon stage veteran returns to direct TLT season opener

Published 3:39 pm Friday, September 10, 2010

Millicent Hunnicutt was a professional by age 15. It was a long way from her cousin Pats dance school to the Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade and even farther to a career as an actor in some of the best theaters in the Southeast.

Daughter of Peggy and Charlie Hunnicutt, well known from Tryon Little Theater and other area productions, Millicents gifts were revealed early. She began studying dance when barely out of toddlerhood and was acting and singing in Broadway scenes by age eight at the Flat Rock Playhouse. Wendy Wilkins Bailey gets credit for instilling Millicents early love of theater.

She showed me the importance of childrens theater and how to showcase each child. We were all stars to her.

Now grown up Millicent, who originated the role of housekeeper Puny Bradshaw in the premiere production of Welcome to Mitford at the Blowing Rock Stage Company in September 2007, will direct this same play as TLTs 2010-2011 season opener.

Im thrilled to have the opportunity to do this, she says. Im excited about my cast and I cant wait to share this show. It brings Jan Karons heartwarming Mitford series to life in a way that only good theater can. Playwright Robert Inman plans to attend opening night on September 23 and will speak at the Lanier Library that afternoon at 2 p.m.

Millicents Tryon Little Theater debut was as a little princess in The King and I with Christine and Stephen Fitch. She auditioned at age 13 for what turned out to be one of her favorite roles Little Red Riding Hood in Stephen Sondheims stunning Into the Woods, directed by Elvin Clark.

It was amazing! This show changed my life! she exclaimed. To add to the headiness, the cast and audience sang Happy Birthday to her at the final curtain call. There was no stopping 14-year-old Millicent after that.

She began to participate in anything that would make use of any or all of her already well-developed skills. She performed with the Foothills Savoyards in their Gilbert and Sullivan productions and joined the Community Chorus. Other Tryon productions include Camelot, The Music Man, and Sherlock Holmes, as well as many scholarship benefit productions.

In 2000, Millicent was awarded the Sue Hipps Scholarship, which was created to honor TLT favorite Sue Hipps. In the summer of 2002, while enrolled at Lees McRae College in Banner Elk, N.C., Millicent returned to Tryon to direct and choreograph the TLT/Tryon Youth Center production of School House Rock Live, Jr.

In 2004, Millicent received her B.S. degree in musical theater and dance from Lees McRae. She has performed in venues such as Blowing Rock Stage Company (where in addition to appearing in the Welcome to Mitford premiere, she taught tap dancing for childrens theater classes), Showpalace Dinner Theatre (Fl.), Broadway Palm (Fl.), Greenbrier Valley Theatre (W.V.), Wohlfahrt Haus Dinner Theatre (Va.), Lees McRae Summer Theatre, and North Carolinas own Flat Rock Playhouse.

An advocate for the arts in the public school system, Millicent spent this past summer at Camp Ton-a-Wandah as the evening program coordinator. She directed girls ages 6 to 15 in a play she wrote and taught advanced dance classes while coordinating dance, drama, gymnastics, and music.

The Tryon Little Theater box office is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Workshop, located at 516 South Trade Street. Performance dates are September 23 through 25 at 8 p.m., September 26 at 3 p.m., and September 30 through October 2 at 8 p.m., October 3 at 3 p.m. All performances will be held at the Workshop. For more information, call 828-859-2466.