Why Sutton Foster is Resume Goals

Two Tony Awards? Check.

Dance moves better than yours? Check.

A proven record on television? Check.

Well, there’s no doubt about it- Ms. Sutton Lenore Foster has the resume that every performer wants.

As one of Broadway’s most popular leading ladies, Sutton is one of those chameleon actresses, one that can slip in and out of almost any brassy role in the theatre canon. She manages to create portrayals that are both sweet and sassy. This, in turn, has earned her a very devoted fanbase. But perhaps the most remarkable thing about her is that, unlike most stage stars, she’s also managed to transition into the elusive entertainment medium of screen.

Most recently, as if she weren’t enough of a superhero…Sutton added “Mom” to her list of roles by adopting a little girl. In today’s entry- which just happens to be my 250th- I’m going to take you on a little tour of Sutton Foster’s career highlights.

Sutton Foster

photo credit: Joan Marcus

In 2002’s Thoroughly Modern Millie, she looked absolutely stunning in this iconic red dress and tap-danced her way to her first Tony Award win. At this year’s Tony Awards ceremony, she presented costar Gavin Creel with his first prize for Hello Dolly! (Don’t you just love full-circle moments?)

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In 2006, Sutton failed to prove she wasn’t a “Show Off” in the beloved, nostalgic romp known as The Drowsy Chaperone. In this musical-within-a-comedy, she played an actress portraying a bride-to-be named Janet. Confused yet? Don’t worry, it makes much more sense when you see it take shape onstage!

anything-goes

She snagged her 2nd Tony Award for the 2011 revival of Cole Porter’s Anything Goes. Sutton played Reno Sweeney, the sexy songstress who actually makes a living as an evangelist. Opposite fellow Broadway heavyweight Joel Grey, she knocked standards like “I Get a Kick Out of You” and “Blow Gabriel Blow” out of the park.

"Younger" (Ep. 201- Airs January 13, 2016)

After making her mark on the short-lived ABCFamily show Bunheads, Sutton finally struck oil with TVLand’s hit program Younger. On this show, she portrays Liza, a 40something writer who ever-so-slightly fakes her age to get ahead in her career. The series is now in its 4th season.

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But just because she’s now a television name doesn’t mean that Sutton is abandoning her theatre roots. In fact, just last year, she headlined the critically-acclaimed Off-Broadway production of Sweet Charity. Extended multiple times, the show has generated rumors of a Broadway transfer. Is there anything this woman can’t nail?

For Your Consideration: All Aboard the 20th Century!

Yesterday, I made a lovely trip to NYC to see the Roundabout revival of On the 20th Century at the American Airlines Theatre. This “madcap musical comedy,” as it’s billed, features music by Cy Coleman and book/lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green. This production stars Kristin Chenoweth and Peter Gallagher as Lily and Oscar, an actress and producer who were once romantically involved. The problem is that Oscar is broke and needs his ex to star in his new project- and he’s only got 16 hours before their shared train travel arrives in New York.

This show was super fun, especially in Act II. What was particularly impressive was the seamless set changes; train cars shifted away to reveal flashbacks and dream sequences. I’ve heard some complaints about the “tinny” orchestrations in this production, but it sounded great to me. The best numbers in the show were “Veronique,” in which Mildred Plotka becomes the fabulous Lily Garland, “Life is Like a Train,” which featured an awesome tap dance by the porter quartet, and “She’s a Nut.” Let me tell you something about that last one: it is the screwball chase scene at its finest. Flashing lights, manic pursuit, and an escaped sanitarium patient straddling the front of the train (seriously) all made for big laughs and excitement.

Speaking of sanitarium patients, let’s talk about the cast! I have to say, the supporting cast of this show was exceptional. As Oscar’s slick henchmen, Michael McGrath (of Nice Work fame) and Mark Linn-Baker were bumbling and charming, all at once. Mary Louise Wilson was also a crowd favorite as the token crazy old lady, and the four Porters were magnificent. But the biggest show-stealing performance came from Tony nominee Andy Karl, who completely nailed the role of Lily’s new boyfriend Bruce. He relied heavily on physical comedy, and he was a treasure to watch. In fact, by the end of the show, I found myself actually wondering what happened to Bruce.

Although Kristin Chenoweth is very suited to roles like this one, it was nice to see her having fun with the part and showing off her moneymaking vocal chops. She and Peter Gallagher played off each other very well and had good chemistry. They also had beautiful fashions designed by Broadway’s costume king, William Ivey Long. In conclusion, On the 20th Century made for a sparkling afternoon of theatre; I would recommend it, but you’ll have to be quick. This production is playing a limited engagement and will close on July 19th!

For the first time ever, I’m filling out a full Tony Awards ballot.

Tony Awards PicksI don’t know; can you guys read that? Maybe if you right-click that and zoom. I’m not disclosing whether or not these are who I think will win or who I want to win. Feel free to share your own selections. The Tony Awards will be hosted this year by Kristin Chenoweth and Alan Cumming and are broadcast live on CBS at 8pm June 7th.

BONUS Entry: Flashback Friday Theatre Review

Good morning, dilettantes! In honor of the recent opening night of ON THE TOWN on Broadway, I’m going to share with you a review I wrote last February of LITTLE ME at New York City Center. Why? Because, well, I really like how I wrote it, plus the star of ON THE TOWN (Tony Yazbeck) was also in this show.

So, as promised, here is my review of Little Me at NY City Center, the first show in this year’s Encores! presentations. The music was composed by Cy Coleman, the lyrics penned by Carolyn Leigh, and the book masterminded by Neil Simon. The show’s “hook” is that one actor plays all seven of the men in the life of fictional socialite Belle Poitrine.

That one man here was none other than Christian Borle, who we just saw in NBC’s The Sound of Music Live! Borle expertly shifted from character to character (sometimes in a matter of seconds) and nailed every one. My favorites were Frenchman Val du Val (who got the BEST number in the show, “Boom Boom”) and wonder boy Noble Eggleston, the true love of Belle Poitrine. There are two actresses who play Belle- as a young lady, Rachel York, and as an older grand dame, the peerless Judy Kaye. Their duet, the title song, was my second favorite number.

Other supporting roles were played by Cinderella’s Harriet Harris and Gypsy’s Tony Yazbeck. And the more ridiculous the plot became (and it was extravagant on more than one occasion!) the funnier the performers were. The energetic and totally game ensemble rounded out this delightful throwback to the days of old school musical comedy. And I even got to talk to Christian Borle before the show, by the way!