Alum leaps into international performing career


Eleanor Werneke

John Hussar, class of ‘07, and theater teacher Laura Lang pose together. Lang was a mentor to Hussar in his time at JC participating in the theater department.

Performing with passion on the Broadway stage, John Tanner Hussar, class of ‘07, belts “Hit Me With Your Best Shot.” Hussar played the character of Franz in the musical “Rock of Ages.” His success at such a young age makes many people wonder how he got to where he is today.

Hussar grew up in Bel Air, and attended St. Margaret’s Elementary and Middle Schools. He then moved on to JC for high school.

“[I chose JC] for the theater department,” Hussar said.

During Hussar’s freshman year, an overwhelming amount of students wanted to do the shows because it was the first year the theater department was presenting a fall play.

Hussar participated in all eight musicals of his high school career – “Wizard of Oz,” “My Fair Lady,” “Tom Sawyer,” “42nd Street,” “Pajama Game,” “The Music Man,” “Anything Goes,” and “Damn Yankees.”

“I think JC provided me great training for growth in college and was a great footstep for me in theater,” Hussar said.

After graduating in 2007, he went to Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York. Hussar chose his college the same way he chose his high school: for its theater program, which has recently been named one of the top 10 in the country. He majored in theater and minored in contemporary ballet.

Hussar’s former theater teachers Kim Brueggemann, Larry Hensley, and Laura Lang helped him learn. “We have three very passionate people that are teaching us about theater,” he said. “They have a love for it.”

After college, he moved to New York City, where he still lives today. Like many young actors, he started auditioning for shows in New York multiple times a week, night and day.

“I get there early, listen to music, and zone out. I focus on keeping all my energy for the audition,” Hussar said.

According to Hussar, present at auditions are the casting director, the casting director’s assistant, the director, and sometimes the choreographer. There are hundreds of people who audition. They teach you 90 seconds of a song and choreography. Then, they break down the room into groups and watch the groups one by one.

Hussar explained how it is the luck of the draw when it comes to casting directors. Their mood and wants for their show could depend on the simple things like if they have had a good lunch or if it’s the morning or afternoon.

“It’s all about the energy you give off. Sometimes you only get 1-2 minutes for an audition,” Hussar explained.

When the casting directors don’t even make eye contact with you or you don’t get a call back, Hussar said that “you can’t take it personally.”

It was at an “Addam’s Family” audition where the casting director specifically asked Hussar to audition for another musical, “Rock of Ages.”

Hussar had to wait a year before he heard back from the casting director of “Rock of Ages.”

“You have to have the heart to [do] this,” Hussar said.

He soon learned that he got the role of Franz, a villain turned good. All of the auditions and hard work that he put in had finally paid off. He joined the cast of 17 people on a 10-month tour around the world, beginning November 2013 and ending September 2014.

One of his favorite places he performed was in Singapore. He loves meeting up with all of his old classmates in different parts of the country.

“It was so heartwarming for us, his friends since St. Margaret’s through [JC], to see a dream he had for as long as I can remember come true. We saw him put in the work over the years and persevere through ups and downs,” Hussar’s close friend Allison Grimmel, class of ‘07, said.

“I think it is really cool that I have known someone on [a] Broadway tour because I knew him way back when. It is cool to have that connection,” mother of one of Hussar’s former classmates and Service Learning Coordinator Susan Strawbridge said.

Hussar has recently returned from performing in “Peter Pan” in Virginia Beach for a couple of months. He is currently modeling after being contacted by a photographer.

In eighth grade Hussar wrote, “in 10 years I will be dancing and singing on Broadway.” Hussar has accomplished his dream and is looking forward to performing in more shows on the Broadway stage.

Eleanor Werneke is a Lifestyles Editor for The Patriot and