Leslie Walker ’19

Leslie Walker ’19
Leslie Walker ’19

At a young age, Leslie Walker ’19 knew she wanted a career in the performing arts, as she dreamed of someday performing on Broadway. In the last year, Walker accomplished this goal, as she made her Broadway debut in the revival of Funny Girl as an original cast member, appeared with her cast on Good Morning America, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, and attended the 2023 Tony Awards. Her “bucket list” goal was also completed; Walker was featured on the show’s cast album. Her time at Hartt played a huge part in getting her to where she is now, as “Hartt truly gave me every opportunity it could.” 

Walker came from a performance-driven family, as her mother was a dancer in Las Vegas and her father was an actor. Yet, it was her time at Hartt that solidified her educational foundation and provided her with connections and opportunities that turned her dreams into a reality.  Since graduating, Walker has performed in numerous regional theaters and recently finished her run in Funny Girl, as a member of the ensemble and understudy for Emma. 

She credits Hartt as providing the tools for her success. “College is about doing the work, so seize every moment you possibly can” advises Walker, who embodies this work ethic and outlook. When she expressed interest in choreography, Hartt gave her the chance to lead choreograph one of the spring mainstage musicals, along with multiple sophomore black-box productions. “I was able to experience what life was like behind the creative table,” Walker explains. “This led to me being able to produce my own fully choreographed senior thesis project; I directed a dance-theatre piece set to the entire Beatles Sgt. Pepper album.”  To this day, she says it is still one of her proudest accomplishments.    

The faculty at Hartt also made a formidable impact in Walker’s life, as they “really shaped who I am as a person and as a performer. I was able to really focus on honing in my craft in a space where I felt like I was allowed to experiment, explore, and even fail.” In fact, Walker still maintains a close relationship with the program, as she is invited to teach master classes to current students, and helps with the audition process for applicants. She loves giving back to the community to share her experiences. 

Walker also cites Associate Professor of Dance and Music Theatre Ralph Perkins as a “guiding light in all things…and taught her what it means to be a leader, an artist, and a mentor. I owe so much of my success to him.” 

In addition to the connections made with Hartt’s faculty, the industry partnerships that Hartt cultivates were proven to be paramount in Walker’s post-college career. Through Hartt's relationships with Hartford Stage and Goodspeed Opera House, she was able to be part of their productions, but also received multiple job offers from the creatives she worked with. In fact, Walker was able to be connected to her current agent in her senior year, which resulted in more than half of the jobs she booked.  

Hartt’s close-knit community played an important piece in Walker’s story. “We walked into The Hartt School as strangers and we walked out as family,” she says. “My best friends to this day are ones I met at Hartt.”  Walker cites fellow music theatre graduate Jayke Workman as one of her best friends, who to this day has followed a similar path with a Broadway debut.  

As Walker says of her fellow Hartt classmates, “Now we get to cheer each other on as our dreams come true.”  

Hartt truly gave me every opportunity it could.

Leslie Walker ’19, The Hartt School