Meet Fiona Hutchison, York Prep Chair of Performing Arts & Performing Arts Teacher

York Prep Performing Arts Chair Fiona Hutchison’s genuine passion and enthusiasm for the performing arts creates a warm and inviting atmosphere for everyone in her presence at York Prep. She brings out the best in her students in many ways. Her teaching methods draw out hidden talents in more introverted students, and she encourages her students that are more seasoned performers to take their talents a step further. In addition to overseeing the drama and music departments, Ms. Hutchison also teaches dance and jumps in to occasionally teach drama and music classes.
In addition to being a part of the York Prep faculty, Ms. Hutchison is a working actress, writer, and producer. On the heels of shooting a new series called yA, Ms. Hutchison is currently preparing for the premier of the York Prep fall theater production, Almost, Maine. When Ms. Hutchison speaks about the upcoming performance, which she describes as a poignant comedy about the oddities of love, she lights up about the talented cast—this light is sparked each and every time she speaks about her students.

Before she transitioned into teaching and running the Performing Arts department, Ms. Hutchison had an illustrious career as a performer. As a trained ballerina (Ms. Hutchison trained at the Royal Ballet School in London, the School of American Ballet in New York, and the American Ballet Theater in New York), she danced the lead roles in productions including Giselle. She then moved on to acting and became well known for her role as Gabrielle Medina on ABC’s One Life to Live, and was nominated for an Emmy for her role as Jenna Bradshaw on CBS’ Guiding Light.

Prior to becoming a York Prep teacher, Ms. Hutchison was a York Prep parent. Her two sons both entered York Prep in 2011 and graduated in 2015 and 2016. During their second year at York Prep, she joined the York Prep faculty and eventually expanded the Performing Arts department. After running a theater company in upstate New York for three years with her husband, John Viscardi (Drama Director & Performing Arts teacher), she applied her expertise towards hiring a new musical director and building out the dance department.

The first theater production under Ms. Hutchison’s direction was Check, Please at the Second Stage Theater uptown in the fall of 2013, and the first musical production was The Drowsy Chaperone at the Marjorie S. Dean Little Theater in the spring 2014. Since then, York Prep has also updated and revamped the music lab in room 100, and the dance department expanded into the neighboring dance studio where classes and dance rehearsals take place. Ms. Hutchison also created the cheerleading squad, and works with dance teacher Lance Martin on their routines.

Ms. Hutchison says that her transition from the theater company to working with students was somewhat seamless. She takes the same approach that she used with working actors, and applies it to her students. She always stresses enjoyment and likes to highlight the fact that there are so many roles involved in the performing arts.

She is also very keen highlighting the subtleties of body language because she believes in the powerful impact of how people carry themselves. One her most widely used exercises require students to speak in front of the class for 30 seconds without saying “like” or “um”. While a strong command of body language and public speaking are two important skills in performing arts, they are also life skills Ms. Hutchison tells her students to apply these skills to life events such as college and job interviews. Some of her students have continued on to work on Broadway, write their own musicals, and major in Stage and Production Management at Carnegie Melon.

Ms. Hutchison is not only a prolific performer and remarkable teacher; she is also an accomplished producer. This past summer she executive-produced the musical Underground: The Musical, An Urban Tale, which was written by John Viscardi and part of the New York Musical Festival 2019. It is currently in further development. Ms. Hutchison also facilitated a Columbia Film School and New York University student film, which was shot at York Prep this summer.

Ms. Hutchison is excited to work on York Prep’s first One-Minute Film Fest this coming winter. High School students will have the chance to shoot short films on their phones, which will be screened in front of an audience. With passion and enthusiasm, Ms. Hutchison is forging an exciting path for the Performing Arts department at York Prep!