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Broadway star with local roots teaches Airdrie Masterclass

“I just wanted an opportunity to sort of give back to my community,” she said, adding that sometimes it’s nice for people in Airdrie to attend workshops held in the community instead of having to go to Calgary.

Airdrie’s theatre kids had a chance to learn from a real Broadway pro in a recent Masterclass held at Genesis Place.

The class, taught by seasoned music director, pianist, vocal coach, and teacher, Julia Sunay, took place on Sunday. Sunay grew up in Calgary but has spent her fair share of time in Airdrie as some of her family calls it home.

“I just wanted an opportunity to sort of give back to my community,” she said, adding that sometimes it’s nice for people in Airdrie to attend workshops held in this community instead of having to go to Calgary.

She shared some of her experiences as a music director and performer for Broadway productions, and provided some feedback and personal coaching.

“We had several students come up and sing songs that they wanted feedback for,” Sunay said.

Over the two and a half hours of class time, students, who were mostly in Grade 9 and up, took part in a Q&A about professional performing and music directing. Sunay said it was good for students to be able to ask questions and learn lessons from her career.

“One of the questions was, ‘What do you think are the two most important things?’ And I said just hard work, but also being yourself,” she said. “You're unique in what you can bring to the table.”

Sunay is currently the associate music director of the touring Broadway production, Beetlejuice.

Growing up, she was active in community theatre and eventually pursued a musical theatre degree. She spent around 15 years working in theatre in Toronto and touring across Canada, and then eventually made the move down to the United States.

After working as an actor and pianist for many years, Sunay has made the transition to music direction over the last ten years, working on productions in Toronto and for Broadway cruises.

Shortly after the pandemic she began working on her first national musical tour, An Officer and a Gentleman, which led to her involvement with the Beetlejuice tour.

The Beetlejuice production began rehearsals in October 2022, and is projected to tour until June 2025. The show hits Calgary in January 2025, as well as Edmonton and Vancouver.

“We just celebrated our 500th show this year, a couple of weeks ago, and surpassed our millionth audience member,” Sunay said. 

The show closed on Broadway in January 2023, which makes this tour one of the only ways to continue to see it.

During the Masterclass, Sunay taught the students a bit of the Beetlejuice opening numbers.

“It's just amazing to see kids that are so passionate and so excited about the repertoire,” Sunay said. “They were all familiar with the show already and the storyline and all the songs.”

Local talent shines

With a variety of experience levels in the room, Sunay was impressed with how vulnerable and how willing the students were to stand up and sing.

“I really applaud people who are able to get up and kind of put themselves out there,” she said.

Having family in Airdrie, Sunay has seen an increase in opportunities for kids to get involved in theatre and the arts over the years.

Sunay will be back in the area next January with the Beetlejuice production, but she’s unsure if she can squeeze in another Masterclass along with their busy schedule. The cast of the tour would love to teach a dance combo from the show, she added.

“Whenever I'm in the city, I'm always looking at ways of giving back to the community that I was privy to being a part of growing up,” Sunay said.

She hopes to connect with some of her mentors, previous high school teachers, and community groups she was once part of to give back in some way.

Sunay has worked as a vocal coach, piano teacher, and voice teacher; something she doesn’t get to do as associate music director of Beetlejuice.

“It's a really nice opportunity to be able to sort of flex that teaching muscle again and to work with kids,” she said. “Because they view things in a different way and they have a curiosity that perhaps some adults who've been in the business for a really long time sometimes take for granted.”

She said seeing the curious and enthusiastic energy of the students is really touching. The passion among the younger generation also reminds her how fortunate she is to be part of such a massive Broadway show, she added.

While it’s a privilege to work across North America, she said Canada, and Airdrie, have a beautiful community with many theatre and arts opportunities.

To learn more about Sunay's work, go to To find Beetlejuice tour dates, go to

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