From Leading Lady to the Director’s Chair
5 Questions with Anna Bussing
by Alexa Giacomini, Member – Muni Board of Managers
AG: Tell us a little about yourself…
AB: I was born and raised in
Springfield and went to SHG and the
for undergrad and grad school. I have my doctorate in audiology and
currently work at SIU Audiology with pediatrics and adults. University of Illinois
AG: What's your Muni experience?
AB: My first role at The Muni was in 1995 when I was 9 years old; I played Tootie in Meet Me in St. Louis. My sister and I used to practice my song “Under the Bamboo Tree” on our fireplace. We can still do it together.
Favorite shows to date include Big and Grease. I was in the chorus for both shows. Favorite roles I’ve played are Wendy and Peter Pan in Peter Pan. It's my favorite show; I think the show is just magical.
I started working behind the scenes on staff as a choreographer in 2010 for Disney’s High School Musical. I later also choreographed Hairspray, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.
This will be my 20th season at The Muni. I've never skipped a season. It's my summer home and I can't imagine being anywhere else on summer nights. People always ask how I can dedicate so much time and effort to shows but the people there have become like family. It's the most enjoyable thing I do. I want to be there every night.
AG: What do you think your biggest challenges will be as a first time Muni director? What is different about directing a Muni show than other productions in town?
AB: The scariest thing is that I've been given this responsibility from people who have directed me and led me since I was a kid. I respect their opinion so much and I don't want to disappoint them. I often forget that I make the final decisions now. I'm so used to asking others for their permission and opinion. I have to make the final decision now and it's nerve racking. But it's comforting knowing that I have guidance from tons of people if I need it.
The Muni is different because the shows are so gigantic. There are big sets, a big cast and so much happening in each scene. It will be a challenge being responsible for so many people.
AG: How did you make the transition from lead actress to director? Any advice for other aspiring directors?
AB: It seemed like a natural transition. As you do more shows and gain more experience, you formulate an opinion about things that work and things that don't. The biggest thing is to make sure that you decide to be on staff for shows for which you have a true passion. Do it wholeheartedly or don't do it. I'm trying to hold myself to that for both auditioning and being on staff.
AG: Why should people come see All Shook Up?
AB: This show is pure fun and rock-n-roll. It has energetic choreography, a simple plot, familiar Elvis songs and high energy. It’s good old fashioned theater that is pure entertainment and takes no effort to watch. It's cliché but a simple sit back and relax kinda’ show.