Make us your home page
Instagram

Sutton Foster, one of Broadway's brightest stars, comes to the Straz

TAMPA — Sutton Foster takes a stroll backstage. Usually it's during sound check, an hour or so before her concerts, such as the performance she'll give Sunday at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts.

By definition, An Evening With Sutton Foster is going to represent the song list of Thoroughly Modern Millie and Anything Goes, for which she won Tony Awards. She will dip into popular and jazzy standards of the last century, plus a few tunes the Sandman forgot.

She might sneak a glance at the earliest arrivals. Are they older or younger? Sedate or peppy? Each venue is a little different, and sometimes the performances are too.

A few minutes after the stroll, she will retreat to her dressing room, vocalize and talk to her pianist. Whatever comes out of that conversation will determine the final version of the show.

In the quiet backstage moments, she will take a breath and try to get herself straight.

"I'll say my age in my mind," she said. "I'll say, 'Sutton, you're 40 years old. You've been working your whole life to be here. You can allow it to be good.' "

• • •

Getting there was neither easy nor impossibly arduous. Talent bloomed early. Foster was a Star Search contestant at 15. Encouraged by her Troy High School drama teacher in Michigan, she spent her senior year dancing with the Will Rogers Follies. After a head-clearing year at Carnegie Mellon University, she headed to New York.

Around 27, she rose from the chorus in 2002 to the lead role in Thoroughly Modern Millie, after Kristin Chenoweth, the original Millie, left to pursue television.

"I had big shoes to fill for Millie," Foster said of the role also played by Julie Andrews in a 1967 movie. "It's definitely intimidating, but I was very green and I think that helped me."

So green, Foster decided, it was time to try something new: voice lessons.

"I didn't know how to sing eight days a week," she said. A well-known "voice therapist" taught Foster to protect herself. Her acting, singing and dancing drew raves from critics, who compared her with Carol Burnett, Mary Tyler Moore and Shirley MacLaine.

Foster has since returned to the Broadway stage a half-dozen times, including in 2012 for Anything Goes. She's also worked in television, appearing on Bunheads and Flight of the Conchords. She now stars in the TV Land series Younger.

Expect her concert Sunday to reflect her Broadway shows but also more of Foster herself, who is going for intimate and personal on this tour.

"It's a feeling like we're all hanging out in my living room," she said. "As in, I'm going to give you a side of myself that you haven't seen yet. So it's a little more exposed, a little more vulnerable, as opposed to the razzle-dazzle."

Confidence to go there came from nine years in therapy and just living longer, she said. It's a lesson she tries to impart to theater students in master classes she has given at Ball State University.

"As I've gotten older I've definitely gotten more comfortable in my own skin," Foster said. "It's like, I'm enough. I don't have to add all the whipped cream and the sprinkles and the cherries and all the bells and whistles. Because then it's like, it's too sweet. It's too much. How do you allow who you are as a human being to be interesting enough to be singular, to be beautiful?"

Contact Andrew Meacham at ameacham@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2248. Follow @torch437.

. If you go

Sutton Foster

The show starts at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. $35.50-$55.50. (813) 229-7827. strazcenter.org

Sutton Foster, one of Broadway's brightest stars, comes to the Straz 12/11/15 [Last modified: Friday, December 11, 2015 6:08pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Hernando Events for May 26-June 1

    Events

    Events

    26 Friday

    Free Zika training: Presented by the Hernando Computer Club, the training is for those who wish to assist in the effort to find a cure for the Zika virus. Club members are volunteers for World Community Grid and are donating their devices' spare computing power to …

  2. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for May 24

    Events

    Damien Escobar: The acclaimed hip-hop violinist who has played for presidents tours in support of the album Boundless. 7:30 p.m., Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater. $35-$45. (727) 791-7400.

    HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 03:  Recording artist Damien Escobar performs onstage during the BET Presents Super Bowl Gospel Celebration at Lakewood Church on February 3, 2017 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for BET)
  3. The new 'Baywatch' movie is basically about hot people in swimsuits

    Movies

    Baywatch is a running gag in slow motion, a thong-in-cheek TV retread swapping wholesome jiggles for dirty giggles. There are places for such humor but beaches don't have gutters.

    Kelly Rohrbach as CJ Parker, Alexandra Daddario as Summer, Ilfenesh Hadera as Stephanie Holden, Dwayne Johnson as Mitch Buchannon, Zac Efron as Matt Brody and Jon Bass as Ronnie in the film, "Baywatch."
  4. Think we're loco? The most unlikely Phil Collins soundtrack hit of the '80s

    Blogs

    Phil Collins was on the level of Kenny Loggins for soundtrack supremacy, but Collins wasn't content to stay in the background as he jumped back into acting with the movie Buster that spawned a solid soundtrack that included hidden gems like Loco In Acapulco by the Four Tops.

  5. Wine of the Week: Mark West Black Pinot Noir Monterey County 2015

    Bars & Spirits

    Mark West Pinot Noir, with its cheerful yellow label and thrifty price point, has long been a favorite of folks looking for a reliably drinkable, well-priced red.