PLAYBILL.COM'S CUE & A: Rent Star Emma Hunton

By Matthew Blank
February 28, 2012

Emma Hunton, currently starring as Maureen in the Off-Broadway production of Rent at New World Stages, fills out Playbill.com's questionnaire with random facts, backstage trivia and pop-culture tidbits.



Hunton appeared as Ilse in the Broadway company of Spring Awakening.

Other stage credits include Young Cosette in the third national tour of Les Miserables and Natalie in the first national tour of Next to Normal.





Full given name: Emma Leigh Hunton

Where you were born/where you were raised: Born and raised in Los Angeles, California!
Zodiac Sign:TECHNICALLY I'm a Virgo, but I'm a true Leo at heart.
What your parents did/do for a living:Growing up, my mom was a waitress supporting me while I went on auditions. As I got older my mom became more involved in the industry and started working with a friend who owned a talent agency. She's been working there for the past several years (and she's great at it).
Siblings: Apart from the friends who feel like family, none!
Current audition song/monologue: I try to pick songs that are appropriate to the audition I'm going on. I've used everything from Simon and Garfunkel to Stephen Schwartz to Stevie Nicks.
Special skills: I can't sight-read music, so I've been able to train my brain to learn music quickly, which ends up having an equally positive effect in life.

I'm able to pick things up quickly and for some unknown reason, it doesn't go away. I'm stuck with most of the information I obtain and it's pretty hard to get it to go away. In the same vain, I also have exceptional random trivia knowledge.

Something you're REALLY bad at: Painting my nails! I always mess one finger up. I'm also really bad at being organized.
First Broadway show you ever saw: Phantom of the Opera when I was 8.
If you could go back in time and catch any performance, what would it be? I'd love to see the original cast of Tommy. And of course I would love to go back and see the original cast of Rent.
Recent show you have been recommending to friends: I feel so out of the loop since coming back from the road, so I've been asking all of my friends for recommendations. I did enjoy Godspell, and I can't wait to see Carrie!
Favorite showtune of all time: The song "I Don't Care Much" from Cabaret holds a very soft spot in my heart.
Some favorite modern musicals: Passing Strange, Next to Normal, Spelling Bee, Tommy
Some favorite classic musicals: Les Miserables. It will always be my favorite and it's unsurpassable in my opinion.
Stage or screen stars of the past you would most have loved to perform with: Louise Brooks
Your personal vocal idols, living or dead: Janis Joplin, Grace Potter, Nancy Wilson
The one performance – attended - that you will never forget: Seeing Spring Awakening for the first time with all of the people who were being considered for the show in the same theater at one time.

I was sitting next to Andy Mientus, in front of Caitlin Kinnunen, behind Krista Pioppi... all of whom ended up becoming great friends of mine. It was the start of a beautiful life in New York City.

Music that makes you cry, any genre: There's a song called "Bird Girl" by Antony and the Johnsons that always makes me cry. Generally anything off of "The Sparrow and the Crow" by William Fitzsimmons.
MAC or PC? MAC! All the way.
Most played song on your iPod: At the moment, it's "Blood" by The Middle East.
Most-visited websites: Twitter! I'm developing a bad habit of informing all of my followers about a lot of unimportant things that I do.
Favorite Tweeters: SarahKSilverman, Jesus_M_Christ, ThePresObama, Lord_Voldemort7, PreschoolGems
Last book you read: "The Hunger Games" (in less than 24 hours, it was THAT good)
Must-see TV shows: "American Horror Story"
"Once Upon a Time"
Some films you consider classics: "Dogfight"
"A Clockwork Orange"
"Psycho"
Performer you would drop everything to go see: Carrie Fisher in Wishful Drinking
Pop culture guilty pleasure: Ke$ha
Favorite cities: Chicago, New York, Memphis
Favorite sport/team/player: I'm a football fan, but I like watching any game. I'm not picky when it comes to teams or players.
First CD/Tape/LP you owned: First album I bought with my own money was "Middle of Nowhere" by Hanson. I STILL own it.
Greatest Band of All Time: Death Cab For Cutie, Beatles (obligatory), Rolling Stones, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, The Pretenders, Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (David Bowie), Arcade Fire
When you first realized you could sing: I couldn't for the first 6 years of my life. My mother likened me to Alfalfa. It wasn't until I auditioned for a local production of Annie that anyone (including myself) realized I could sing.
First stage kiss: Preston Sadleir. I love that boy.
Favorite or most memorable onstage role as a child/teenager: Most memorable will always be Spring Awakening because it was my first show on Broadway. Next to Normal was my favorite adolescent role because I was really challenged not only vocally but as an actor as well.

As of right now, my favorite adult role is Maureen. She's so off the wall, how could she not be my favorite?

Moment you knew you wanted to perform for a living: Birth. There was never a moment it wasn't a question for me.
How you got your union card: I did a Mother's Day commercial for Hallmark on my 8th birthday. It was all about bringing your mother to school for Mother's Day and talking about them while they watched with pride in the back of the room.

And then, because it's Hallmark, I walk up with a locket that was my mother's who had passed... and they show my dad smiling in the back. Sadly, in never made it to air.

Favorite pre-/post- show meal: I always grab something quick at Bella Donna right before the show, and post-show I like a big meal at either a diner like Galaxy, or yummy Italian at Basilica.
Favorite liquid refreshment: I'm a sucker for a Shirley Temple. Or just plain old Coca-Cola.
Pre-show rituals or warm-ups: I get my blood going with some music and stretch out my muscles. Rent is a very physically and vocally demanding show, so I have to make sure everything is warm before we go out there.

We also have a lovely prayer circle before every show and touch the Jonathan Larson plaque before we step onto the stage.

Most vocally challenging role you have ever played: Rent. Hands down.
Worst flubbed line/missed cue/onstage mishap: I'm notorious for being clumsy. On the road with Next to Normal I fell maybe 4 times a week. Up the stairs. Down the stairs. Standing still. Entering. Exiting. I started keeping ice packs in my room because it was inevitable.
Worst costume ever: That duck suit in Spring Awakening wasn't the most flattering costume I've ever worn...
Worst job you ever had: I've been very fortunate to say that I've loved every job I've worked on, and with each show I love my chosen career more and more.

I'm also fortunate to only have worked one survival job as a nanny and because of my affection for children and my insistence upon still acting like one, I had a blast doing that too.

When did you first see Rent? The Non-Equity tour stopped in Beverly Hills. After talking to Genny Lis Padilla the other night, we both realized I saw her in that production along with a bunch of other people I now call friends. Who knew?
If you could trade roles/tracks with anyone in the show for a week, who would it be? That's hard because I get the easiest and most fun track in the whole show. Mike Wartella has a good track as Gordon and the waiter, and I think I also like Morgan Weed's track as Mrs. Cohen.
Leading lady role you've been dying to play: Something no one has ever done before.
Leading man role you wish you could play: Elder Price
Something about you that surprises people: I'm an extremely picky eater. I don't like most foods.
Something you are incredibly proud of: My career so far. My mother, she continues to inspire me with her views on life, friends, work and love.
Something you're embarrassed to admit: When a phone number texts me and I don't know who it is, I continue conversations with them because I feel bad about not adding them into my phone when I should have.

I also can't pick up choreography very quickly. It's rare I go to a dance call.

Career you would want if not a performer: DJ. Party planner. I'm great at throwing parties.
Three things you can't live without: Music, friends, phone
"I'll never understand why…" ... people follow me on Twitter. I just reached 3,000 followers today! I say some pretty silly things on a daily basis. But I appreciate their willingness to follow anyway.
Words of advice for aspiring performers: Everything happens for a reason. All of those "No's" make the "Yes-es'" so much better when they happen.

If you believe in yourself, no one can stop you from becoming the person or performer you know you can be.