Liana Hunt as Catherine Plumber

Liana Hunt, as Catherine Plumber, takes a moment to interview and flirt with a newsie.

If you’ve ever wondered who the real Dancing Queen is — well, she came straight from Peoples Academy.

Liana Hunt (Class of 2005) made her Broadway debut as Sophie, the lead in “Mamma Mia!” at 23. The famous jukebox musical, featuring songs from ABBA, has been a hit since its premiere in 1999. But Hunt, like ABBA, was not a one-hit-wonder. She also went on to earn the lead role, Katherine, in the Disney musical “Newsies” on Broadway.

“I’ve wanted to be an actor and perform on Broadway for as long as I can remember,” Hunt said. “I used to listen to Broadway cast recordings over and over on my cassette tape player.”

As for how her passion for theater began, Hunt said, “My mom took me to New York City with her for the first time when I was 10 and I saw my first Broadway show, “Beauty and the Beast.” That was a pretty magical experience for me as a kid … I knew that that’s what I wanted to do someday.”

Growing up, Hunt took dance, voice, and theater lessons, and participated in every show that Peoples Academy had to offer. She was a part of the drama club, choir, select choir, and yearbook committee. As for sports, although she would claim they were never her forte, she participated in soccer for a few years as well. Her favorite subjects included math and English, while her fondest memories of high school were going to sports events, the One Act Play Festival, homecoming, and building the bread oven and going to Switzerland with Mr. Carr’s French class.

“I had some incredible teachers during my time at PA,” Hunt said. “Some of my favorite teachers were Mrs. Duffy, Mrs. Donovan, Mr. Chilton and Mr. Chase.”

Peoples Academy English teachers, Rachel Duffy and Moira Donovan, remember Hunt and her impeccable work ethic fondly while she was in high school.

“Liana spent a great deal of time on her academic subjects outside of class in between lessons and rehearsals,” said Duffy. “Not once did Liana use her exhausting schedule as an excuse to not complete her work. I am certain, in fact, that Liana spent more time than most students on her academic pursuits.”

Not only does Hunt shine on stage, but her bright energy was evident in the classroom, as well.

“I always remember her caring attention to everyone she encountered; Liana would light up a room with her winning smile and wonderful heart,” said Donovan. “Over the years, it has been a privilege to watch her grow into such an extraordinary person — on and off the stage.”

Throughout her career, Hunt got to meet and perform for Alan Menken — composer of “Little Mermaid,” “Aladdin” and “Beauty and the Beast,” among others — tour the country with several Broadway national tours in “Wicked” and Steve Martin and Edie Brickell’s “Bright Star,” and perform regionally at theaters across the country, including the San Diego Old Globe and the St. Louis Municipal Opera Theatre.

Recalling the accomplishments of her career, Liana said, “I think at this point, being able to sustain a career in this industry is something that I am proud of. It’s a really tough business, and it’s not an easy lifestyle, but I feel lucky to get to do what I love and to tell stories for a living. Being from a small town in Vermont, it often felt like the odds were stacked against me in becoming an actor in New York City, but there are so many opportunities in our area. I’m grateful to have had such great training early on.”

Hunt is now celebrating her recent engagement to her partner of 10 years, Larkin Bogan, a fellow Broadway star who is currently in “Wicked.”

Olivia Owen is a senior at Peoples Academy High School in Morrisville.

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