Q & A: Sutton earning praise in role, got start singing in karaoke bar

For years, people kept telling David Anderson Sutton how well he could sing. Finally he listened and

For years, people kept telling David Anderson Sutton how well he could sing. Finally he listened and, as a result, Kevin McGuire isn’t the only Hoosick Falls native with a great voice and some pretty good acting chops.

A landscape and construction worker for most of his life, Sutton is also finding time to perform and doing it very well, portraying the Padre in Capital Repertory Theatre’s production of “Man of La Mancha.” McGuire, the Hoosick Falls native who went on to play the lead roles in both “Les Miserables” (on Broadway) and “The Phantom of the Opera (Toronto), is Cap Rep’s Don Quixote. While the production has received universal acclaim, Sutton has been singled out by more than one reviewer for his work as the Padre.

“To Each His Dulcinea” and “We’re Only Thinking of Him” are his two opportunities to shine and, while he doesn’t disappoint, it’s not the first time he’s hit the right notes at Cap Rep. In 2009, he played three different characters in “My Fair Lady,” and in 2008 he was part of the chorus in “The Dead.”

Now 46, Sutton has been spending most of his time running his own landscaping and construction business and until recently had served as superintendent of the Hoosick Falls school district for five years. While he jokes that his landscaping career began at the age of 10, he says he didn’t even think about singing in public until he was 25 during a night out with friends at a karaoke bar.

A football player and wrestler at Hoosick Falls High School, Sutton went to SUNY-Cobleskill and, after graduating, into the landscaping business. Sutton’s father sang in the church choir, and as a soloist with the West Point Glee Club, performed on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” The glee club was included in the introduction from John Ford’s 1955 film about West Point, “The Long Gray Line.”

Sutton still lives in Hoosick Falls with his wife, Amy, a Cambridge native and a sixth-grade teacher in the Hoosick Falls district.

Q: “Man of La Mancha” has two more weeks left in its run at Capital Rep. Are you enjoying the experience?

A: I am so proud of being a part of that show. I thought at times I might have some difficulty with the poignant moments because of the long run. I asked myself: “Will I still be moved at the climactic moment near the end of the show,” and I have been for every show. I’m very moved by each performance, and I think the message is a very important one, even for us today.

Q: When did you start singing?

A: When I was 25 I started singing at the Immaculate Conception Church in Hoosick Falls, and since I play a priest in the show, it was great that my priest, Tom Zelker, was in the audience for the very first show of “La Mancha.” But as for singing, I was never into it. I was into wrestling and football during high school, and performing was something I never thought about. But I was working a job in Corning and we went into a lounge that had a karaoke bar and I said to myself, “I can’t do any worse than these folks.” So, I gave it a rip and I got an excellent response. It takes a lot of courage to get up in front of people and sing, but that was really the start of my career.

Q: Aside from church and a karaoke bar, when did you start performing?

A: I sang with David Janower and Albany Pro Musica at Proctors in 2000, and then I did a few things at Hubbard Hall with Kevin McGuire, and I played one of the muleteers in their production of “La Mancha.” I got a lot of help from my first voice teacher, Steve Marking from Hoosick Falls, and he really helped me develop and gave me some confidence.

Q: Did McGuire also offer some advice?

A: I’ve had a few life-changing moments in my life, and one of them was being at St. Mary’s School for a Christmas Cabaret with Kevin McGuire in 2000. I had never been to a Broadway show before so it was a totally new experience for me. But we were right in front, right at the first table, and here is Kevin coming out on stage and singing and I was like stunned, “what is this all about?” Here is this guy from Hoosick Falls who has performed on Broadway and he’s just amazing. Well, I thought, “maybe I could do that.” Then, you meet Kevin and he’s so accomplished, and yet so nice and so supportive. He’s so dedicated to his art, and to just watch him is to learn. We’re so proud to have him, and I quite fondly refer to him as the “Lion of Hoosick Falls.”

Q: In 2008, you made your debut with Capital Rep in “The Dead.” What do you remember about that?

A: I can remember getting a phone call from Corine Salon, my voice teacher from Schenectady, and she was already in the cast for the play. She told me to get down there, right away, and audition for the show. I didn’t know anything about Capital Rep, I didn’t know who Maggie Mancinelli-Cahill was. But she said they needed an Irish high tenor, so I went down there, I sang an aria for them, and they hired me on the spot. All of a sudden I’m working alongside all of these professional actors from New York and off-Broadway. I couldn’t believe it.

Q: Do you wish you had started performing earlier?

A: It was just something that wasn’t a part of the culture I grew up in, and I never knew it might be an opportunity for me. I can remember my father singing in church, but I never knew what he had done earlier in his life. He never bragged about it, and I was the youngest of five kids, so that part of his life was something I just wasn’t aware of. Fortunately, I was the one who inherited my father’s voice.

Q: How often do you look for a show to perform in?

A: As much as I can, because I would like to do nothing but perform. I do have to say that I still enjoy landscaping and creating something new with the earth, and making people happy that way. But I feel like I have a gift, and I feel like it’s very important to have music in your heart. I’m very happy to share my gift, and the real gift to me is that I love it. I am moved by music.

Categories: Life and Arts

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