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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Sutton Foster at Barnes & Noble

Broadway fans know how talented Tony winner Sutton Foster is. She has appeared in Shrek: The Musical, Young Frankenstein, The Drowsy Chaperone and Thoroughly Modern Millie, for which she won the Tony for Best Actress.

She is currently starring in the frequently sold-out revival Anything Goes, playing the iconic role of Reno Sweeney, made famous by such legends as Ethel Merman and Patti LuPone. Once again, she is nominated for a Tony award.

Last year she had a sold-out week of shows at the Cafe Carlyle, and that performance was captured on a CD titled appropriately, An Evening With Sutton Foster Live at the Cafe Carlyle. To promote it, she made an appearance at Barnes & Noble 86th St. store in NYC.

She was scheduled to appear at 5pm, but had to push it back to 6:15, explaining that she was taping an episode of Sesame Street with Elmo. She was very excited to be asked to be on Sesame Street, and honestly, who wouldn't be?

To make it up to the crowd, she did an extended Q&A session.  She  said that Reno Sweeney is her most challenging role yet and that when she was asked to do it, she immediately said yes, then thought, "wait" and was on the fence, but she said that her fear of the role is why she must do it.

She watched lots of '30s movies with Barbara Stanwyck and Betty Hutton to get into the speech patterns of the role. She cited Carol Burnett as someone whose career she admired, and she struck me as very much like Burnett. She's quirky funny, can sing, act- she can do it all, and she has Burnett's down-to-earth charm. She's pretty, but naturally pretty, like the girl-next-door, not glamorous movie-star beautiful. And she has an All-American girl smile that lights up her face.

I saw her last year in 2nd Stage Theatre's drama Trust, where she played a completely different dramatic role as a dominatrix. She told us that she did do some research for that role, and it was crazy. She was very good in the role, proving that she can do just about anything.

When asked what roles she'd like to play, she said Mama Rose from Gypsy, and the Baker's Wife from Into the Woods.  She'd also like to play a Disney princess, and she'd be a terrific one.

Last year was a big year for Foster, playing in Trust, performing at the Carlyle and on tour, and in the Encores five show performance of Anyone Can Whistle. She said that the experience of singing There Won't Be Trumpets with Stephen Sondheim sitting in the front row was unforgettable for her.

She sang two songs from the CD- John Denver's Sunshine On My Shoulders (one of my husband's favorites and a perfect song for the glorious weather we had that day in NYC) and a funny Down With Love. I regret not seeing her last year at the Carlyle, and when she performs there again, I will get tickets. She is one of the most talented performers on Broadway, and she will have a career like the great Bernadette Peters. Her CD is wonderful, perfectly capturing her sense of humor and crystal clear, lovely voice. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys good music.

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