Macon’s Sasha Hutchings making TV debut, set to make Broadway return

lfabian@macon.comFebruary 4, 2013 

Sasha Hutchings remembers watching NBC’s “Smash” last year and thinking the television show captured all the drama of trying to make it on Broadway.

Now art is imitating life, as the aspiring young dancer from Macon makes her television debut on the program Tuesday night.

“It’s very surreal,” Hutchings said Monday during a rehearsal break. “One of the coolest things about ‘Smash’ was seeing those two worlds collide -- TV and Broadway.”

Hutchings’ own Broadway debut came last year in the musical “Memphis.”

The 24-year-old was a swing performer who had to master the dance and singing roles of eight characters and fill in during others’ absences.

It was a dream role she coveted while studying dance on a full academic scholarship to Oklahoma City University.

When the Tony-Award winning Best Musical of 2010 closed in August, she was out of a job.

“It was so sad ... to have to say goodbye to a great family that I was used to seeing each day, so I did freak out a little bit to figure out what it was going to be like the rest of my year,” she said.

Her network of actors was already abuzz about other auditions -- one for “Smash,” the other for “Motown the Musical,” which debuts in April on Broadway.

After an idle week, she was cast in both.

First came the call to work on “Smash.” Between August and December, she stood-in for guest star Jennifer Hudson on the show that airs at 9 p.m. Tuesdays on NBC.

Hutchings learned the dances and assisted Hudson in mastering and remembering the moves before filming.

“She was really wonderful to work with, very hard-working, very attentive and ready to go, and just a lot of fun, really,” Hutchings said of the 2004 “American Idol” alumna and the Academy Award-winning supporting actress in “Dreamgirls.” “She’s a really funny person.”

Look for Hutchings dancing during Hudson’s “Mamma Makes Three” number in Tuesday’s first hour of “Smash.”

She also appears in a dreamy dance sequence in the second hour and in a few more episodes later this season.

Next month, the 2007 valedictorian of Central High School begins previews for Berry Gordy’s “Motown.”

Hutchings will be singing and dancing in the ensemble and playing the first wife of Smokey Robinson.

Last September, Hutchings met Gordy and Robinson during a launch party in New York.

When Smokey sings, some hear violins, says the 1987 ABC song.

But when he hugs, you might feel like you’re in a vise grip.

The R&B legend put the squeeze on her waist as they posed for a photograph.

He’s still a ladies man, she said laughing.

“I got to have my picture taken with Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson, which is just insane,” Hutchings said. “I still look at the picture and it boggles my mind that this is what this is.”

Her mother, Howard High School journalism teacher Melanie Hutchings, will be in the audience when the show officially opens April 14.

The wife of Dr. Billy Hutchings has been a Motown fan all her life and can sing every one of Diana Ross’ songs.

“My entire family will probably see the show,” Melanie Hutchings said.

Mom wasn’t always too keen on her perpetually straight-A daughter pursuing a career in theater, but dancing has been her passion since she was 3.

“The little girl who danced in recitals at Wesleyan College every summer, and here she is on the big stage,” her mother said.

“Dance was in her heart, but even now I think she should take some classes because dance is like a sport.”

Sasha Hutchings does have a dance performance degree she picked up graduating magna cum laude from Oklahoma City University in 2011, but her mother would like her to have a backup in case of injury.

For now, the granddaughter of the late William S. Hutchings, the first black person elected to the Bibb County Public School Board and the namesake of Hutchings Career Academy, is just happy to be learning her way around Broadway.

“I’m blessed and very fortunate that I’ve been able to dive in and not look back.”

To contact writer Liz Fabian, call 744-4303.

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