Hadley Mustakas has grown up in the theatre. The first recipient of the Foundation’s Charter Women’s Award, is the daughter of Jackie Mustakas, an actress, and Alex Mustakas, actor, artistic director and CEO of Drayton Entertainment, a not-for-profit professional theatre company based in southwestern Ontario. Her decision to study at Sheridan College in the Honours Bachelor of Music Theatre Performance program is, therefore, no surprise.
“I’ve been lucky enough to grow up in the theatre,” Mustakas said. “My mom is an actress and a Sheridan grad, too. I have all her dance shoes and keyboard.” She said her parents are her role models, particularly her mother. “When I grow up, I want to be my mom,” she said. “She is the kindest, most positive soul. I admire my parents’ work ethic and their kindness in the workplace. They taught me, if you can be anything, be kind.”
Mustakas had roles in a number of Drayton productions including Mary Poppins, Annie, The Sound of Music, The Wizard of Oz and most recently, Mamma Mia. In 2019, she won the Wellesley Idol singing competition at the age of 16.
In addition to performing, Mustakas has done some writing for the stage including a full show which, sadly, never went up during CoVID. In high school, she also directing many plays. “If I go into teaching, I would love to involve drama and the arts in whatever I’m doing.”
“There are so many great things going in the arts now. The arts bring joy, tell stories and bring people together.”
In her first year at Sheridan, all classes were spent completely on line. Last year she and the other students in the program had a hybrid learning model, starting out on line then moving to in-person classes then back on line. “Sheridan instructors have been great in guiding us while allowing space to find ourselves as performers,” she said. “One of the pros of having online classes was it forced people to learn technology which they can use moving forward.”
In September 2022, Mustakas begins her third year which gets even more specific – the program offers the opportunity to go into streams such as commercial performance; directing/ choreography; and writing for theatre on top of ensemble work (singing and dancing). “The first two years, were more of a foundation. I’m excited to explore who I am now as an individual artist, advocating for women in theatre, and finding material that speaks to me.”
Asked about her favourite performers, Mustakas named Cynthia Erivo and Ariana DeBose. “As a young performer, I appreciated Sutton Foster. She is such a triple threat.” As for her dream parts, Mustakas was quick to answer: Zoe Murphy in Dear Evan Hansen; Katherine Plummer in Newsies; Elle Woods in Legally Blonde; and Jo March in Little Women. “Or any of the women in Little Women,” she said. Her favourite musicals also include Hadestown and Hamilton.
Mustakas is optimistic about making a life in the arts. “There are so many great things going in the arts now. The arts bring joy, tell stories and bring people together.” And asked what advice she would offer others considering a career in the arts she admitted to being scared about starting her journey during CoVID. “I’d tell them don’t be scared of your passions. Never give up. Work hard. Be kind. Be true to yourself and always be yourself. Don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t do anything because you can do everything.”
Photo credit: Hadley Mustakas performing on Drayton Entertainment’s virtual series “We’ll Meet Again”
The Arts and Letters Club of Toronto Foundation Charter Women’s Award was established, in partnership with Sheridan College, to honour the first women who joined The Arts and Letters Club of Toronto in 1985. This academic award is presented to a student who identifies as female in Sheridan’s Bachelor of Music Theatre Performance program to recognize outstanding improvement in vocal music – Year 2, as selected by faculty. The $500 award comes with a one-year complimentary membership to the Club.