By Brian Scott Lipton
March is a month of milestones for two-time Tony Award winner Sutton Foster (“Thoroughly Modern Millie,” “Anything Goes.”). On March 18, the eternally gamine singer-dancer turns 40. On March 31, her new TV series “Younger,” debuts on TVLand. And, more immediately, on Friday, March 13, Foster makes her headlining debut with the New York Pops at Carnegie Hall, joined by good friends Joshua Henry and Megan McGinnis. Theater Pizzazz recently spoke to Foster about this very busy month and her future.
TP: Are you excited about doing this show with the Pops?
SF: It’s been great venturing into the symphony world. We did this show previously at the Kennedy Center and with the Houston Symphony. It’s a whole new adventure for me. But most important, it’s a fun, entertaining evening that audiences will hopefully love.
TP: How is this different from your acclaimed cabaret shows at the Café Carlyle?
SF: It’s a different kind of show, even though it’s a mix of some songs I’ve done at the Carlyle. It’s more like a real concert. I sing some songs, and then the Pops perform some songs, so it’s not just me onstage doing 20 songs in a row. First, I had to adjust my head around this format, but then I realized I can run offstage and go have a drink of water or do a costume change. I really love it!
TP: Why did you invite Megan and Joshua to join you?
SF: I knew I’d be scared doing this sort of show for the first time, so I wanted to have my friends around me. I wanted to work with Megan again. And I made this huge connection with Joshua doing “Violet” together. He is such a radiant talent. I don’t want to give away what we’re doing, but I found this video clip of a great song-and-dance routine from an old musical comedy special, and I sent it to him, and he said “I’m game.” In “Violet,” we played these two characters who were ugly and messy, so I thought it would be great to do something completely different.
TP: And you two will be onstage together again this summer at City Center, when you do Encores! production of Andrew Lippa’s “The Wild Party.” Are you nervous about taking on another dark musical?
SF: Yes, I am absolutely nervous, but to have a partner like Josh opposite me is really cool. I think, ultimately, we will have fun doing it together. If I hadn’t done “Violet” with Josh and our director, Leigh Silverman, I’m not sure I could do it. But I trust Leigh completely; I know she will lead me to where I need to be.
TP: Are you happy with “Younger,” in which you play Liza, a suddenly single mother and 40-year-old woman who tries to get back into the working world, but only eventually does so when she passes herself off as a 26-year-old?
SF: I’ve seen the first four episodes, and I am really thrilled how it turned out. I really enjoyed working with Darren Star and this great cast. I tell people it’s a show with a big gooey center, full of fun relationships. Now, we’re just waiting to see how it’s going to be received – which is the hardest part.
TP: Did it make you want to be 26 again?
SF: I can’t believe 40 is staring me in the face. How does that happen? And while I have no desire to really be 26 again, I did wonder what if I could go back to 26 and retain the knowledge I have now. But I am very content with where I am today and where my journey took me. So it’s better to do it this way: play 26 on TV, get to wear fun outfits, and live vicariously through Liza!
Sutton Foster – New York Pops – Friday, March 13th www.carnegiehall.org
*Photo: Laura Marie Duncan